Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize winner announced

6 June 2013

The increasingly well-respected and influential prize was judged by Allison Pearson, bestselling novelist and newspaper columnist, and Dr Chloe Preedy, Cambridge University Lecturer in Renaissance Literature and Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, and the judges were universal in their acclaim for the novel: “The Well was so astoundingly assured that I wondered if AS Byatt had adopted a pseudonym to see if the judges would overlook a brilliant writer. But we didn’t.”

The Well tells the riveting story of Ruth and her family, set in recognisably contemporary rural Britain, and imagines a world where drought takes an increasing grip, as a gradual encroachment rather than as an apocalyptic event. Against this backdrop a couple pursue their dream of a rural idyll, moving to a smallholding which is ceaselessly rained upon during this time of drastic drought. Hard to do justice to the complexity in a few words, the story has the pulse of a thriller combined with a futuristic evocation of a Big Brother society and a fable of humans faced with limited resources.

Growing up in the West Country, Catherine Chanter studied English at Oxford and has previously written poetry and short stories, one a collection called Rooms of the Mind, published by Cinnamon Press. For the last 20 years she has worked with adolescents in inpatient mental health services, but has always written, and her writing is very much influenced by her rural past. “I have always written in one way or another, but this is my first novel. I’m thrilled to win - a few years ago I entered a more public arena with my writing having a short piece accepted by Radio 4; I thought ‘that’s great, perhaps I can now write for other people’.” This she has now successfully achieved, with a collection of agents all very interested in her manuscript.

The prize, now in its third year, is supported by several large publishers, some former finalists and winners are now published in their own right.

Notes to Editors:

Lucy Cavendish is the only female college for women over the age of 21 in the country and the women who attend it have usually made a clear decision to transform their lives in some way.  The College is particularly strong in Medicine and Veterinary Studies, Law, Engineering, and English. Our President, Professor Janet Todd OBE, is an internationally-renowned scholar of early women writers and author of many biographies and critical works.

Contact information:

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge – Jeanette Ariano, Communications & Marketing Manager, 01223 768426 web:

@LucyCavColl                  /LucyCavCollege

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