Launch of Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2018

4 October 2017

Lucy Cavendish College is delighted to announce the eighth annual Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is now open. The Fiction Prize provides a unique opportunity for unpublished female writers to launch their literary careers.

The Fiction Prize is the only one of its kind run by the University of Cambridge and it has gone from strength to strength; last year it received 385 entries. It welcomes entries from unpublished female authors aged 21 and over - Lucy Cavendish is the only women's college in Europe exclusively for students aged 21 or over. It costs £12 to enter and the deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 9 February 2018. All 2018 shortlisted entries will receive a 1:1 consultation with sponsors Peters Fraser Dunlop. In addition, the 2018 winner will receive a cash prize of £1,500.

The judging panel welcomes author Nicci Gerrard, journalist Eleanor Mills and literary agent Marilia Savvides from sponsor PFD. Returning to the panel will be Nelle Andrew from PFD, Dr Lindsey Traub, Dr Ian Patterson, author, award-winning poet and Fellow of Queen’s College Cambridge and literary agent Gillian Stern. Journalist and author Allison Pearson returns to chair the panel.

Leslie Sanderson was shortlisted in April 2017 for her novel On The Edge, and only two months later she was signed up by literary agent Anna Hogarty.

She said:

“I’m thrilled to be working with people who are so excited about my novel. Lucy Cavendish really has made my dreams come true!”

Over the past seven years, the Fiction Prize has developed a formidable reputation for uncovering new talent and draws significant interest from the publishing industry. The Prize has been a catalyst for numerous literary careers. Previous entrants include 2013 winner Catherine Chanter whose debut The Well (Canongate) became a Richard and Judy Book Club pick with TV rights having been optioned by a major US studio. Gail Honeyman, a finalist in 2014, was recently selected as one of the Observer’s new faces of fiction for 2017 for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (HarperCollins). Her novel was the subject of a bidding war eclipsing seven figures and was published in May 2017 to great critical acclaim. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s Swan Song was shortlisted in 2015 before being acquired by Hutchinson in October 2016 in a six-figure pre-empt. The novel will be published in the UK next year. Another previous shortlisted author is Sara Collins (2016) whose novel The Confessions of Frannie Langton was highly praised at the recent Frankfurt Book Fair and has been signed up by Viking.

Chair of Judges, Allison Pearson, said:

“The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize has gained an outstanding reputation amongst publishers for finding undiscovered talent. It really does provide a platform for new writers to showcase their work.”

Jackie Ashley, President of Lucy Cavendish College, prolific writer and high-profile political journalist and commentator reflects on the Prize:

“The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is the only official literary prize of the University of Cambridge. It provides unpublished, undiscovered women writers a unique opportunity to get the support they need to publish their first novel. Alongside our outstanding panel of judges, I am excited to see new writing talent emerge and to celebrate it once again.”

New for this Year: The Lucy Cavendish Creative Writing Course

Several of the judges and successful entrants from previous years have collaborated to launch a Lucy Cavendish Creative Writing Course. This will be open to all, irrespective of gender and will run as a fully residential course from 23 to 28 September 2018 at Lucy Cavendish College. The course Directors are Miranda Doyle and Jo Browning Wroe. So far, confirmed speakers  include Nelle Andrew (PFD), authors Laura Marshall, Emily Midorkawa, Kate Rhodes, Gillian Stern and Peggy Hughes, who is the new Programme Director at the Writers' Centre in Norwich.  Details and booking information will be announced shortly.

 - ENDS -

Photo: Shortlisted authors 2017

Notes to editors:                           

About the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize

The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize was founded in 2010 by Professor Janet Todd OBE, then President of the College. Aspiring authors are invited to submit an opening to a novel (up to the first 50 pages), accompanied by a synopsis of how the novel progresses and concludes. Entrants must be female, aged 21 and over and resident in the UK. The shortlist will be announced on the College website on Thursday 26 April 2018. The winner will be announced at a dinner on Thursday 24 May 2018, attended by representatives from the publishing industry hoping to sign up the literary talents of the future. The winner will receive a cash prize of £1,500 and a consultation with Peters Fraser Dunlop.

About Lucy Cavendish

Lucy Cavendish is the only women's college in Europe exclusively for students aged 21 or over, and a unique part of the University of Cambridge. Its undergraduate and postgraduate students come from over sixty countries, and a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have changed careers or overcome significant challenges in order to reach University. The College is particularly strong in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, the Social Sciences and English. 

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