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Announced: Judges for the 2024 Society of Authors Awards

By Maisie George and Amy Joan Sayner

The judges for the 2024 Society of Authors Awards, a selection of eleven prestigious prizes and scholarships which recognise the most talented literary voices of the year, were recently announced on 24 April. Collectively, the prizes are worth over £100,000 and are awarded annually for poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and illustration. Their aim is to celebrate authors and poets who have produced masterpieces in all stages of their career, whether they have just released their debut or are more established in the literary field. The awards include the ADCI Literary Prize, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, Betty Trask Prize, Cholmondeley Awards, Eric Gregory Awards, McKitterick Prize, Paul Torday Memorial Prize, The Queen’s Knickers Award, Somerset Maugham Awards, Travelling Scholarships, and the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize.

The ADCI (Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses) Literary Prize aims to encourage greater inclusivity and positive representation of disability within literary works. Founded by author Penny Batchelor and publisher Clare Christian along with the Society of Authors, the award is open to those with a disability and/or chronic illness who have written novels which include a disabled or chronically ill character. This year, the judging panel consists of writer and broadcaster Selina Mills, psychological suspense author Vikki Patis, writer, campaigner and podcast host Chloe Timms, producer, social commentator, and writer Nil Ayikwei Parkes, author Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, middle grade and women’s fiction author Julia Lund, New Poets Prize winner Karl Knights and Prize co-founder Penny Batchelor.

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is given to authors of short stories of up to 5,000 words. The 2024 judges consist of novelist Sophie Haydock, author and short story writer Yan Ge, Caine Prize for African Short Story winner Brian Chikwava and previous Betty Trask award winner Peter Hobbs. Hobbs describes the judging experience as “hugely rewarding” and considers it a “privilege to survey new and emerging voices."

Founded in 1983, the Betty Trask prize is awarded to debut novels from authors under 35. Anjali Joseph, previous Prize winner and current judge for the 2024 panel, highlights how writing your first novel is “a flight of ambition and risk that demands bravery,” and this prize offers “recognition and financial support that’s incomparably helpful for a fledgling writer.” The other judges joining Anjali include author and Guardian writer Michael Donkor and Winchelsea author Alex Preston.

The Cholmondeley Awards were created in 1966 and are awarded to poets who have produced consistently outstanding work, regardless of the stage they are at in their career. This year, the winners will be selected by Malika’s Poetry Kitchen founder Malika Booker, poet, memoirist and critic Hannah Lowe, Eric Gregory and Cholmondeley Award winning poet Lachlan McKinnon and poet and Royal Society of Literature Fellow Moniza Alvi.

The Eric Gregory Awards seek to award recognition to poets under thirty who have made significant contributions to the poetry scene. Gwyneth Lewis, Inaugural National Poet of Wales, and also current judge for the awards, describes how being given the award is a “life-changing experience” and thus the judging experience is a “weighty but joyful task.” Alongside Lewis, the panel will comprise of poet and educator Raymond Antrobus, writer, poet, playwright, and human rights activist Eric Ngalle Charles, SLAMbassadors founder Joelle Taylor and previous Cholmondeley Award winner Caroline Bird.

The judging panel for the McKitterick Prize, an award which celebrates an outstanding debut novel from an author over forty, consists of two past McKitterick prize winners, Anietie Isong, and Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, literary critic Rebecca Foster, writer, editor and bookseller Nick Rennison, writer and Assistant Professor in Creative Writing Gonzalo C. Garcia, and writer and musician Rónán Hession. Rónán expresses his admiration for the authors that submitted novels of such “depth, diversity and imagination” and describes his excitement to “read debut writers who have the confidence to take risks.”

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize celebrates debut novels written by an author over sixty, and will be judged by crime novelist Trevor Wood, journalist, producer, author and past runner-up Gaby Koppel, and actress, director, and writer Anni Domingo. Gaby notes that this prize rejects the cliches surrounding getting older “by showing that mature minds… can enter into fresh territory to produce original work, crackling with imagination and ideas.”

The judging panel for the Queen’s Knickers Award, a prize which is given to the author of an exceptional children’s illustrated book for ages 0–7, consists of Salomey Doku, self-taught author and illustrator, Chris Haughton, designer and children’s book author, and Cerrie Burnell, former CBeebies presenter. Cerrie has described the selection process as a “gorgeously immersive treat” to be able to “slip back into the wild imagination, possibility, humour and joy of picture books.”

The Somerset Maugham Awards were founded in 1947 to aid younger writers to further enhance their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. This year, the winners will be chosen by novelist and short story writer Ardashir Vakil, previous winner Akeem Balogun and TS Eliot Prize winning writer Bhanu Kapil. Ardashir describes his judging experience as “exciting and revelatory” and an invaluable opportunity to read “important stories, both past and present, from across the globe.”

Founded in 1944, the Travelling Scholarships seek to allow British creative writers to maintain contact with their colleagues abroad. According to Jury, communications and public affairs consultant, writer, and judge for this prize, “travel can be transformative to the work of writers” and can offer an invaluable source of inspiration. Joining Jury on the panel will be translator, poet and fiction writer Philip Terry, poet, playwright, and critic Gabriel Gbadamosi, poet and editor Alvin Pang and multi-genre writer Emily Barr.

Lastly, the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is awarded to an author whose novel focuses on the experience of travelling away from home, and it encourages writers to draw on their experiences abroad for inspiration. The judging panel will be comprised of critic and short story writer Aamer Hussein, Granta’s ‘Best Young British Novelists’ listee Yara Rodrigues-Fowler and novelist Kerry Young.

After the judges have considered all the submitted works, the shortlist will be announced in May, and following this, the winners will be awarded their prizes in June. If you would like to learn a bit more about the awards, click here to explore each prize in further detail on the Society of Authors’ website.



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