Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2019 now open for entries

3 October 2018

Lucy Cavendish College is delighted to announce that the ninth annual Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is now open. The Fiction Prize provides a unique opportunity for unpublished female writers to launch their literary careers, with past successes including Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Swan Song), Laura Marshall (Friend Request, Three Little Lies) and Catherine Chanter (The Well).

The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is the only one of its kind run by the University of Cambridge. The Prize has gone from strength to strength; last year we received almost 400 entries. We welcome entries from unpublished female authors aged 21 and over. The submission cost is £12 and, for the first time, ten entries will be free of charge* thanks to the generous support of former Fiction Prize writer, Frances Maynard (author of The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr, shortlisted in 2016).

On supporting the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Frances said:

“The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize definitely helped me get published, so I’m delighted to help other writers on their way!”

Other successful authors have expressed similar praise for the Prize with Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (shortlisted for her novel Swan Song in 2015) adding:

“I am so glad I entered and was shortlisted with six astonishingly talented women! I am deeply proud of my association with Lucy Cavendish, and grateful for the College's extraordinary support of Swan Song on its journey.”

The deadline for entry to the competition is 12 noon on Friday 8 February 2019. All 2019 shortlisted entries will receive a 1:1 consultation with sponsors Peters Fraser Dunlop. In addition, the 2019 winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize will receive a cash prize of £1,500.

This year the judging panel welcomes Jackie Ashley, political journalist, broadcaster and Honorary Fellow of the College (after leaving the College as its eight President). Also new to the panel is Katy Loftus (Editor at Viking). Returning to the panel will be Nelle Andrew from sponsor PFD, editor and ghost-writer Gillian Stern, Honorary Fellow Lindsey Traub and poet, crime writer and Honorary Fellow, Sophie Hannah. Journalist and author, Allison Pearson will chair the panel again in 2019.

Over the past eight years, the Fiction Prize has developed a formidable reputation for uncovering new talent and draws significant interest from the publishing industry. It has been a catalyst for numerous literary careers. Recently, Gail Honeyman  (2014 finalist) has topped the fiction charts with her novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (published 2017) with accolades including the British Book Awards ‘Book of the Year 2018’, Waterstones Fiction ‘Book of the Month’ for February 2018 and the 2017 Costa Book Awards ‘First Novel’ Award. Laura Marshall (2016 Shortlist) reached the Sunday Times Top 10 list with her first novel Friend Request. Laura has also just released Three Little Liars, which has already been listed by iBooks as a ‘Book of the Month’. In November this year, Lesley Sanderson (2017 Shortlist) will publish The Orchid Girls. Claire Askew (2016 Winner) has recently published All The Hidden Truths, which was chosen as ‘Book of the Month’ in September by The Times. Emily Midorikawa (2015 Winner) and Emma Claire Sweeney published A Secret Sisterhood to wide acclaim.  Catherine Chanter (2013 Winner) published The Well in 2015, which was selected as a favourite by The Richard and Judy Book Club.

Lucy Cavendish Student Fiction Prize

In addition to the main Prize, in 2019 the College will run its first Lucy Cavendish Student Fiction Prize. Funded by the Florence Staniforth Award for Excellence in Creative Writing, this will be for students from any discipline studying at Lucy Cavendish and entry will be free of charge. Students will be invited to submit a short story to a panel of judges led by College Vice-President Isobel Maddison, and including published authors and creative writing teachers Jo Browning-Wroe and Miranda Doyle. The winner of the Student Prize will be awarded £100 and two other entries will each receive £50. The winner will be announced on the same evening of Thursday 23 May 2019.

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.”

Professor Madeleine Atkins, President of Lucy Cavendish College said:

“The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is the only official prize of its kind at the University of Cambridge. It provides a unique opportunity for unpublished women writers to get the support they need to publish their first novel. I am especially excited that we also offer a Lucy Cavendish Student Fiction Prize for the first time this year. This will provide a great opportunity for our whole community to get involved.”

*Terms and conditions for the free entries apply. Please see website for details.

- ENDS -

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 Wednesday 6 March 2019. The winner will be announced at a dinner on Thursday 23 May 2019, 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 a women's college 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.


1. Shortlisted authors 2018

2. Winner of 2018 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Deepa Anappara

Contact information:

Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge – Kate Coghlan, Communications & Marketing Manager, T: 01223 768426, E:

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