Chair of the judging panel, Allison Pearson is an award-winning author and journalist. Allison’s first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was translated into 32 languages and sold several million copies. Oprah Winfrey called it, “A Bible for the working mother.” Allison was named Newcomer of the Year at The British Book awards. The novel was later made into a film starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Allison’s highly praised second novel, I Think I Love You was set in her native South Wales.

Allison Pearson

Allison is now a columnist and interviewer on the Daily Telegraph, having begun her journalistic career as a TV critic on the Independent on Sunday. She appears frequently on radio and television and is presently working on the sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It.

Allison lives in Cambridge with her family and two poodles and is a patron of the Cambridge Literary Festival. She is passionate about her involvement with the Lucy Cavendish Prize, which has helped to bring so many unheard wonderful women’s voices to public attention. 


We are delighted that Jackie Ashley will join the judging panel this year. Jackie is a political journalist, broadcaster and Honorary Fellow of the College (she left the College as its eight President earlier this year). 



Nelle Andrew is an agent at Peters Fraser and Dunlop, sponsors of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize. She represents NY Times and Sunday Times bestsellers and is a Bookseller Rising Star of 2016. Before joining PFD she worked at Pan Macmillan. She is interested in well-written, accessible literary fiction, Book Club, clever suspense and crime as well as 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 made 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 necessary to establish their careers.


Sophie Hannah will return to the judging panel this year. She is 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, was published in September 2016 and The Mystery of Three Quarters, a Sunday Times Bestseller. See more on Sophie’s own website here.

Katy Loftus joins the panel for the first time this year. She is editorial director at Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where she has been steering their commercial fiction publishing for the last three years. She commissions future bestsellers across all genres, and her varied list includes Cara Hunter, Tana French, Beth Underdown, Fatima Bhutto and Josie Silver. Her perfect novel is one that combines original and brilliant writing with a page-turning plot. Before joining Viking, Katy worked at HarperCollins and Transworld. She is one of the founders of Penguin’s WriteNow initiative, which aims to find and nurture writers from under-represented communities. She also co-hosts Feminist Book Society in partnership with Waterstones Tottenham Court Road.editorial director at Viking, where she will be helps to steer the direction of Viking’s commercial fiction publishing. Full profile to follow shortly.


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 of Summer 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.


Dr Lindsey TraubDr Lindsey Traub returns to the judging panel in 2018. 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’. 

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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