Allison PearsonChair of the judging panel, Allison Pearson is an award-winning author and journalist. Her first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was an international bestseller; it was translated into 32 languages and sold several million copies. Oprah Winfrey called it, “a Bible for the working mother", and it was later made into a film starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Allison was named Newcomer of the Year at The British Book awards. Allison’s highly praised second novel, I Think I Love You, was set in her native South Wales. This year, she published an acclaimed sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It. Allison was chief interviewer for The Daily Telegraph, where she is now a regular columnist; she began her journalistic career as a TV critic for The Independent, and also working for The Daily Mail. She has appeared frequently on radio and television, and is a patron of the Cambridge Literary Festival. She lives in Cambridge with her family, and is passionate about her involvement in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize. @allisonpearson

We are delighted that Jackie Ashley will join the judging panel this year. Jackie now has a portfolio career: she is a specialist adviser to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, a trustee of The Carers’ Trust, a judge for the Royal Television Society news and current affairs awards and sits on several committees at University College Hospital London (UCLH). Previously she was the eighth President of Lucy Cavendish College and is now an Honorary Fellow of the College. Before her time in Cambridge, Jackie worked for over thirty years at Westminster, as a prominent political journalist and broadcaster. Her career has included roles as producer and newsreader on Newsnight, political correspondent with ITN, Channel 4 politics producer, presenter of several political programmes on BBC2 and ITV, Political Editor at the New Statesman and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Week in Westminster’. As a columnist and political interview at The Guardian, she covered Labour, Conservative and Coalition politics, women’s rights, the media and public services, with a focus on health. Alongside her career, Jackie has campaigned on issues like equal pay and the NHS and raised three children with her husband (Andrew Marr). 

Nelle Andrew is a literary agent at Peters Fraser and Dunlop (PFD), one of the longest-established literary and talent agencies in London. She was named a Bookseller Rising Star of 2016, and nominated for Literary Agent of the Year at The British Book Awards of 2018. Before joining PFD, she worked at Pan Macmillan, and now represents New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers. She is interested in well-written, accessible literary fiction, clever suspense and crime, and wonderful storytelling that defies genre pigeon-holing. She has a BA Hons from Warwick University in English with Creative Writing and an MPhil from Trinity College Dublin in Creative Writing with Publishing. Before she was an agent, she was published as a fiction author, hence her particular empathy for debut authors who need the attention to detail and primary care so essential to establishing careers.

Sophie Hannah will return to the judging panel this year. She is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, a poet and Honorary Fellow of the College. Her novels have been published in 32 languages and include The Carrier (2013) which won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets. Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie has published three new Hercule Poirot novels, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than fifteen countries, Closed Casket, which was published in September 2016 and The Mystery of Three Quarters, a Sunday Times Bestseller. See more on Sophie’s website here.

Gillian Stern will return to the judging panel this year. She is an editor of literary and commercial fiction, who after 15 years of commissioning books in the social sciences, championed a debut novel that went on to win the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Richard and Judy Summer Reads ofSummer Reads. Passionate about fiction and experienced in spotting and editing bestsellers, Gillian is also a successful ghostwriter, having ghosted eight memoirs to dates. She works on a freelance basis as a structural editor for several publishers including Bloomsbury, Orion and Penguin and critiques and edits for many leading literary agencies including Curtis Brown, Conville & Walsh, PFD, RCW, Furniss Lawton, Aitken Alexander and A M Heath. She also works with The Writer’s Workshop, The Literary Consultancy and mentors writers sent to her by agents, publishers and word of mouth recommendations.@gillybethstern

Dr Lindsey Traub

Dr Lindsey Traub returns to the judging panel in 2020. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, having previously been both College Lecturer in English and Vice-President. Addicted to fiction since childhood, she has spent her working life thinking, talking and writing about it – with a particular interest in 19th Century American women writers who penned the very first ‘bestsellers’. 


Clio Cornish is Editorial Director for Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House, where she publishes commercial and book club fiction. She was previously at HQ, HarperCollins, where shepublished a range of bestselling, prize-winning and prize-shortlisted authors and was awarded the London Book Fair Trailblazer Award. Prior to her time at HarperCollins she was a fiction bookseller for Waterstones, and she holds a BA Hons in English Literature from University College London. In her current role, Clio is looking for powerful, conversation-starting, relationship-driven fiction, and is particularly drawn to novels with a strong sense of place or an evocative period setting. She enjoys considering fiction which tests the boundaries, and is passionate about discovering and supporting new voices.

In this section

Laura Marshall, Shortlisted Author 2016

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"I will always be grateful to the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, as it was really the first step on the road to everything that has happened since" Laura Marshall, shortlisted 2016

More about the Prize

Our Fiction Prize

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Just how did we choose our winner?

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