class="post-46508 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news"Announcing the London Writers Awards Judges 2022a composite of ten faces - the London Writers Awards Judges 2022

Spread the Word is excited to reveal the judges for the London Writers Awards 2022. The fourth year of the highly successful writer development programme for London writers from backgrounds underrepresented in publishing will run from February 2022 – November 2022  for 30 writers of commercial, literary, YA/children’s and narrative non-fiction. Applications are open from 1 October – 31 October 2021. Spread the Word’s Bobby Nayyar and Ruth Harrison are running a free online seminar on 7 October ‘London Writers Awards: Thinking of Applying?’ aimed at potential applicants for the 2022 programme. 

The 2022 Awards will be judged by author judges: Louise Hare, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Benjamin Dean, Sara Jafari and Sara Gibbs. The industry judges are: Emma Bal, Davinia Andrew-Lynch, Emma Grundy Haigh, Matt Turner and Milly Reilly. 

They’ll be supporting Spread the Word with selecting the thirty writers who will be offered a place on the London Writers Awards scheme 2022. Here they share their thoughts about the London Writers Awards…

Literary Fiction Judges

a person looks up at the camera - they look thoughtful and engaged are are wearing a turquoise green top with flowersLouise Hare is a Literary Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022

Louise Hare is a London-based writer and has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. Originally from Warrington, the capital is the inspiration for much of her work, including This Lovely City, her debut novel, which began life after a trip into the deep level shelter below Clapham Common. Louise was one of Observer’s top ten debut novelists of 2020 and This Lovely City was shortlisted for the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize. She is a judge on the Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour and is currently finishing edits on her next novel, Miss Aldridge Regrets, which will be published in spring 2022.  

Louise says:I would not be an author today if I hadn’t had support from fellow writers and mentors along the way. For an outsider, the publishing industry can seem impenetrable and, without help and advice, I would have struggled to gain access. The London Writers Awards is such an exciting programme because it offers the opportunity to form supportive relationships and to learn from industry experts. I came back to writing in my mid-thirties because when I was younger, I struggled to find books written by people like me. I assumed that a career in writing was an impossibility, and certainly at the time it would have been a lot harder than it is today. The landscape is shifting but initiatives like LWA are necessary to bolster that change and make sure of its permanence. I can’t wait to read this year’s submissions and discover some of the new diverse talent in London.” 

Ashley Hickson-Lovence is a Literary Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022

Ashley Hickson-Lovencewas born in London in 1991. He is a former secondary school English teacher currently completing his PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia and is a Lecturer of Creative Writing at Arts University Bournemouth. His debut novel, The 392, was released in April 2019. His second novel,Your Show, is released in April 2022. He is currently writing his third novel, About to Fall Apart.  

Ashley says:As a Black man who grew up in a council estate in Hackney, for too long I didn’t think I could ever be a writer. This is why schemes like the London Writers Awards are so refreshingly important. The world of writing must be accessible, inclusive and continue to encourage writers from all walks of life to tell a good story in bold and boundary-breaking ways. Forget tick boxes, quotas and glass-ceilings, every writer should feel empowered by the act of putting pen to paper, equipped with the belief that there is no limit to what they can achieve with belief.”   

Matt Turner is a Literary Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022

Matt Turner joined Rogers, Coleridge & White in 2012, and is curating a list of literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry. He has a BA in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. Writers he has worked with have won or been nominated for the Costa Book Awards, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Sunday Times Short Story Prize, the JCB Prize, the An Post Irish Book Awards, the Betty Trask Award, the Orwell Prize, the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, the White Review Short Story Prize and the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. 

Matt says:As a literary agent I have been following the London Writers Award for a number of years, drawn by the real change that it is effecting within the publishing industry, and by the quality of the writing it champions. It is a vital advocate for underrepresented and marginalised communities, and its package of support – mentoring, creative and career advice – is tailored to afford its cohort success, and the opportunity to be read and to be heard.  In so doing the LWA is helping to make the literary world more accessible, and importantly, richer and fuller. I am honoured to have the chance to be involved.”

a woman wearing a black jumper and trousers, sitting on a bench and smilingMilly Reilly is a Literary Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022

Milly Reilly is an agent at the Jo Unwin Literary Agency, where she represents literary fiction and a broad range of non-fiction. She is drawn to books written with people at the heart of them, be that a novel, polemic or cookbook. Her authors include Xanthi Barker, Jacqueline Roy, Ben Smoke, Dr Annabel Sowemimo, and The White Pube. 

Milly says:By scouting talented writers from under-represented communities and encouraging their craft over a sustained period of time, this is a scheme that makes a tangible difference. There are too many obstacles in the publishing process — obstacles that can alienate and silence writers — and the London Writers Award is helping to redress the balance of the stories that are being told and listened to. It’s an honour to be a judge for the literary fiction category, and I strongly encourage writers to apply.” 

Commercial Fiction Judges

Sara Jafari is the Commercial Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022.

Sara Jafari is a British-Iranian author and editor. Her debut novel The Mismatch was published in summer 2021 with Cornerstone, Penguin Random House in the UK and Ballantine, Random House in the US. She was a 2018 recipient of the London Writers Awards.  Sara is also a contributor of gal-dem’s essay collection “I Will Not Be Erased”: Our stories about growing up as people of colour (Walker Books, 2019)and Who’s Loving You (Trapeze, 2021).  Outside of her writing, she works as an editor at Penguin Random House Children’s, and in her spare time she single-handedly runs TOKEN Magazine, a literary and arts print magazine featuring under-represented writers and artists.  

Sara says:I know from first-hand experience, as a London Writers Awards Awardee myself, how invaluable the London Writers Awards can be to your writing and project. Spread the Word have been doing the work to help uplift under-represented writers for many years now, and this amazing scheme is a real culmination of all their hard work in helping new writers hone their craft. Starting to write a book can be a daunting process and the London Writers Awards is incredible in guiding you through the process. This programme is a brilliant way to refine your writing skills with invaluable group feedback, and it will give you the tools to look at your own work critically – as well as providing individuals with the insight into the publishing process from beginning to end. I cannot recommend the programme enough.”

a woman with long brunette hair looking up to the right. She's wearing red lipstick and big black glasses. Emma Grundy Haigh is the Commercial Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022.

Emma Grundy Haigh is Commissioning and Managing Editor at Joffe Books, based in London. She meandered in and out of academia before succumbing to the lure of publishing. As a freelance editor, she worked on Man Booker Prize shortlisters and award-winning crime fiction for publishers big and little. She fine-tuned illustrated children’s books and crafted epic travel guides within Penguin Random House, before returning to a life of crime (fiction editing)She loves working closely with authors to unknot tangled plot lines, push villains to their furthest extremes and draw out the weakness of the hero until they become strengths. 

Emma says: The London Writers Awards is a brilliant initiative spearheading genuine change and growth within publishing. Its work to empower and cultivate the most talented new writers from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds, from the very start of their literary career, is as vital as it is enriching. The London Writers Awards is a brilliant springboard for a whole range of new voices and I am extremely honoured to be part of the judging process for the awards in 2022. I can’t wait to start reading this year’s submissions!”

Narrative Non-Fiction Judges

Sara Gibbs is the Narrative Non-Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

Sara Gibbs is a UK-based comedy writer, graduate of the National Film and Television School’s Writing & Producing Comedy course and prolific tweeter, with over 45,000 followers. Her broadcast credits include top satirical radio and television shows such as Newsjack, Sketchtopia, Dead Ringers, The News Quiz, The Now Show, The Mash Report and Have I Got News for You. She is the co-founder of satirical online women’s magazine, Succubus and the founder of The First Laugh Comedy Writing Competition for new writers. She has also written extensively for satirical websites, including CollegeHumor and The Daily Mash. Having received a late autism diagnosis at the age of 30, Sara uses humour to advocate for a better understanding of autism and neurodivergence. Sara’s memoir Drama Queen (Headline, 2021) is both a tour inside one autistic brain and a declaration that a diagnosis on the spectrum, with the right support, accommodations and understanding, doesn’t have to be a barrier to life full of love, laughter and success. It is the story of one woman trying to fit into a world that has often tried to reject her and, most importantly, it’s about a life of labels, and the joy of ripping them off one by one. 

Sara says:One of the most challenging aspects of writing is getting your work seen by the right people in what can often be an opaque industry. The London Writers Award is a fantastic opportunity for writers from diverse backgrounds to receive mentoring and support  to ensure that exciting new talent can reach their full potential and be guided on the path to publication. As an autistic writer for whom traditional networking opportunities and relationship building can be a challenge, I’m thrilled to see such a structured and helpful initiative in place and delighted to support it.”

a person with long dark hair smiling slightly at the cameraEmma Bal is the Narrative Non-Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022.

Emma Bal is a Literary Agent specialising in non-fiction. After graduating from the University of Bristol with a Master’s in Classics, Emma has spent several years championing authors as an award-winning publicist at Penguin and then as Head of Publicity at Bloomsbury. From debuts to high-profile, award-winning experts in their fields, she has launched and cultivated the careers of historians, poets, activists, polemicists, Nobel prize-winning economists, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and memoirists. Authors she has worked with include: Reni Eddo-Lodge, Peter Frankopan, Claudia Rankine, Pankaj Mishra, David Kynaston, Richard Thaler, and Patricia Lockwood. Emma has handled the campaigns for many Sunday Times bestsellers such as Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, Humankind by Rutger Bregman, The Establishment by Owen Jones, Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem and The Anarchy by William Dalrymple. 

Emma says: “I’m so excited to be on the judging panel for the London Writer’s Awards in 2022. The book industry has gone through some promising changes in recent years. We have seen more diverse publishing, and there is a lot more to do. Access is everything and so to be a part of this year’s team of readers at Spread the Word, helping to further opportunities to those who want to write but are often excluded from mainstream culture, is energising and a real joy.”

YA / Children’s Fiction Judges

Benjamin Dean is the YA/Children’s Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022.

Benjamin Dean is an author and celebrity reporter based in London. His debut book, Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow was published earlier this year and was the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for February. He can be found tweeting about pop culture instead of finishing a first draft at @NotAgainBen (but if his publisher asks, he’s been hacked and does not know who has been rewatching the Twilight movies and tweeting about it from his account.) His next middle-grade novel, The Secret Sunshine Project, is due to be published in March 2022, followed by his debut YA novel, The King is Dead, in the summer. 

Benjamin says:It can often seem when you’re trying to write or publish a book that the doors in your way will always remain closed. This is especially prevalent for those from marginalised backgrounds trying to break through into an industry that doesn’t always seem to value their voice, their stories, or their identity. Initiatives such as the London Writers Awards can be a huge boost to writers just trying to get their stories out into the world, and I’m so excited to be a judge this year to help discover some incredible talents.”

Davinia Andrew-Lynch is the Children’s/YA Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2022.

Davinia Andrew-Lynch is a literary agent and the founder of boutique agency, ANDLYN.  Initially specialising in children’s and YA Fiction the agency has now expanded to represent a focused list of adult authors of commercial fiction and non-fiction. Davinia co-created the FAB PRIZE in association with Faber Children’s, which is now going into its fifth year. With the aim of discovering black and ethnic minority writers and illustrators the prize has acted as a springboard to many successful careers. Previously, Davinia was an associate film/TV agent and freelance editor and she has drawn upon these skills to offer her clients a tailored and intimate service with big ambition. Her clients include: Annabelle Sami, Malcolm Duffy, Bex Hogan and Davina Tijani (a former London Writers Awards Awardee!). 

Davinia says:Spread the Word have been long standing and continual champions of under-represented voices and the London Writers Award is a testament to the organisation’s commitment to ensuring that publishing takes notice of the true range of talent the UK has to offer.  I’m thrilled to be invited to judge as a judge this year, and cannot wait to see what new voices we will have the opportunity of discovering!”

Applications are open from 1 October – 31 October 2021. Find out more and how to apply here:

Published 21 September 2021

class="post-46391 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Applications for London Writers Awards 2022a blue logo for the London Writers Awards

The London Writers Awards is Spread the Word’s highly successful and transformative annual writer development programme for London-based unpublished prose writers from backgrounds currently under-represented in publishing. Applications for the programme will be open from 1 – 31 October 2021. 

Running from February – November 2022, the London Writers Awards programme is a partnership between you and Spread the Word. There are deadlines, pressures and lots of rewards. Our goal is for you to complete a step change in your life as a writer, and ultimately find an agent and/or publisher for your work. To date, 26 writers have found agency representation through the programme, and 11 have secured publishing deals. Many more continue to work on their writing, inspired and enthused by their experience on the programme.

What does it involve?
The Awards is a structured programme that is formed of:

– 2 Writers Labs
– 9 masterclasses with creative and career focus
– 12 critical feedback groups where you provide and receive feedback with the four other writers in your group
– 1-2-1 support from the Spread the Word team
– Feedback sessions with an agent and/or editor

Who is it for? 
The programme is for unpublished London-based prose writers who are writing in any of the following genres:

– Commercial Fiction
– Literary Fiction
– Narrative Non-Fiction
– YA/Children’s Fiction

The Awards is for writers who identify as being from a background currently underrepresented in publishing. We consider these backgrounds to be:

– Disabled
– Working class
– Writers of colour*

*Writers of colour: Black, Asian, Arab, Mixed-Raced and Non-white Latinx

The programme has been designed to support unpublished writers who are working on a writing project; a work-in-progress that you can develop in the structure of the Awards. By unpublished, we mean writers who do not currently have a literary agent nor a publishing contract for a full-length work, nor have you previously published a full-length work.

Does it cost money to take part?
Participation in the programme is free. There are bursaries available for writers for whom money may be a barrier to their participation in the programme. There is an Access Fund available for disabled writers currently in receipt of disability allowance to contribute towards additional costs that may be incurred for you to participate in the Awards. You can read more about the bursaries and access fund in the bursary and access fund document below.

Before you apply, please read: 

We have prepared a short video about the London Writers Awards 2022, translated into BSL by Michelle Wood. You can watch it below:

How to apply for the London Writers Awards:

There are three options to apply to the London Writers Awards 2022:

  1. Online Application Form via Submittable

  2. Online Application Form for Audio or Video Submissions via Submittable

  3. Paper Form for Postal Entry (large print)

For Option 1, we ask that you apply via Submittable for the genre you are writing in. The application forms will be open from 1 October – 31 October.

Commercial Fiction Application Form

Literary Fiction Application Form 

Narrative Non-Fiction Application Form

YA/Children’s Fiction Application Form

For Option 2, there is one form on Submittable, where you choose the genre group:

For Option 3, you can download an application form here. London Writers Awards 2021 – Postal Entry Form
London Writers Awards 2021 – Postal Entry Form (Large Print)

Please post your entry to: Spread the Word, The Albany, Douglas Way, SE8 4AG and do ensure that you send it to us before the deadline date.

Applications are open from Friday 1 October and close at 11.59pm on Sunday 31 October 2021.
Late entries will not be considered. After you apply for the London Writers Awards, you will receive an automatic email confirming receipt of your application. Your application will be read anonymously by a team of first readers who will make recommendations to the London Writers Awards judges and the Spread the Word team.

The 2022 London Writers Awards judges are: Louise Hare, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Benjamin Dean, Sara Jafari, Sara Gibbs, Emma Bal, Emma Grundy-Haigh, Milly Reilly, Matt Turner and Davinia Andrew-Lynch.

A shortlist of applicants will be invited to an interview with the Spread the Word team on one of the following dates: 18 – 20 January.  Spread the Word will contact everyone who submits an application by 12 January.

Want to get in touch?
If you have read all of our supporting documents and links and you still have a question about the London Writers Awards that isn’t answered in them, please contact

“As a Black man who grew up in a council estate in Hackney, for too long I didn’t think I could ever be a writer. This is why schemes like the London Writers Awards are so refreshingly important. The world of writing must be accessible, inclusive and continue to encourage writers from all walks of life to tell a good story in bold and boundary-breaking ways.”   Ashley Hickson-Lovence, London Writers Awards 2022 judge

“The impact that the London Writers Awards has had on my writing and confidence is immeasurable! I feel like a completely different person and writer now compared to when I started.” Megan Preston Elliott, London Writers Awards 2021 Awardee


Published 21 September 2021


class="post-46372 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Applications are open for Children’s Fiction 1-2-1 feedback from literary agent Becky BagnellLindsay Literary Agency logo

Spread the Word is accepting submissions of Children’s Fiction for a maximum of 6 short feedback sessions from the Becky Bagnell, agent at the Lindsay Literary Agency. 

Becky Bagnell is offering to provide short feedback sessions by phone or video call on up to 6 submissions from writers from under-represented backgrounds based in the UK.  

She is looking for: Anything laugh-out-loud funny, particularly middle-grade or teen fiction. A love story like Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but for a YA audience.  You can visit her website here:

We define writers from backgrounds under-represented in publishing as those who:   

How to apply   

Please note this opportunity is only open to unpublished and un-agented writers based in the UK. Apply via Submittable. Only one entry per applicant will be accepted. If you are a writer who has received feedback via a Spread the Word opportunity this year from Scribe or from Curtis Brown / C & W Agency you are not eligible for this opportunity. 

The link to apply is here: 

To apply you will need to upload 3 documents: 

If you are a disabled writer, there is the option to submit visual or audio submissions. Please get in touch (e-mail below) if you need any support with this.

Becky will be giving feedback on the documents that you submit. 


If you have any queries about your application or this opportunity, please get in touch with  

About Becky Bagnell 

Becky Bagnell is the founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency and has been in publishing for over 25 years. She worked as a commissioning editor at Macmillan before becoming a literary agent in 2008. Becky’s clients have been published in multiple languages across the world and include the multi-award winning author, Pamela Butchart, Sue Wallman, Sam Gayton, Larry Hayes and J. M. Joseph.  

Published 15 September 2021 

class="post-46496 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Free workshop for London writers on Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice funda composite image of two women sitting in front of a row of books

The Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice scheme  is for individual artists to apply for lottery funding to develop a new piece of creative work and/or a new way of working.   You can apply for up to £10,000 towards for e.g., mentoring, time to create new work, research, training or professional development costs.   Whatever it is you want to do, the project you have in mind must be a clear development opportunity.   

If you are not familiar with applying for grant funding, filling out an application form can be a daunting and baffling process.  Ruth Harrison and Eva Lewin from Spread the Word will be running a free online workshop for London based writers on Wednesday 20 October 2021. They will talk you through the different questions in the DYCP form to help you think about how you can respond to them.  

Once you have attended the workshop you will have up to 25 October to send your draft application to Spread the Word for feedback.  

What you will need for the workshop:  

We strongly recommend you look at the successful applicant case studies on ACE’s website, 

This workshop will: 

Places are limited and, because of the nature of the workshop, we are only able to offer spaces to applicants whose ideas are suitable for this funding stream.  You will also need to show at least one year’s track record as a writer outside of a formal educational setting. This could include being published or produced (e.g.: by small independent publisher or producer or mainstream publisher/producer) published in magazines, shortlisted for writing competitions or expression of interest from an agent, editor or producer, or working professionally on the poetry circuit.  

We anticipate that demand will be high for this workshop so please only request a place if you are committed to attending. The workshop is open to writers of any literary form including screenwriting, playwriting and graphic novels.  It is not open to artists working in other media including documentary film making.  

Booking Your Place 

The workshop is FREE but places are limited. To request a place, please email with: 

The Zoom workshop will be captioned and the caption text made available to participants afterwards. 

Put DYCP Workshop and your name in the email subject line.   

Closing date for applications is Monday 4 October 10 a.m.   

We aim to email you either way by the evening of 13 October to confirm if you have a place.     

Workshop date and time

Date: Wednesday 20 October 2021 

Time: 6.30-8.00pm 

Cost: FREE 

Location: online, via zoom 

Please contact us to discuss your access requirements.  

About Ruth and Eva

Ruth Harrison joined Spread the Word in 2015. Her working life has been in the field of the arts and particularly in literature. She has been Director of Apples and Snakes, a literature development officer and programme manager at The Reading Agency. She is passionate about not only widening people’s engagement with writers and writing but also in developing writing talent. Widening participation and engagement alongside developing and building awareness of new voices has been core to her work.

Ruth has previously been a trustee of Little Green Pig – a charity working to inspire children and young people to get creative with writing, sits on the steering committee for The Literary Platform’s Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and is part of the team developing EmpathyLab – a start-up using words and stories to build young people’s empathy skills.

At Spread the Word, Ruth is responsible for leading the company artistically and strategically and working with our highly skilled and dedicated team to make a difference to and for writers and their audiences in London.

Eva Lewin is Writer Development Manager at Spread the Word where she leads on the one-to-one support for writers, through feedback surgeries and professional development coaching.

Eva commissioned the Writing the Future research (published in 2015) into Black and Asian writers and publishers in the UK marketplace. She continues to work on the strategy to take forward the diversity agenda, including Spread the Word’s consultancy on WriteNow with Penguin Random House.

Her twenty years’ experience in the literature sector includes curating creative writing programmes, co-directing the Hackney literature festival, running writers’ residencies and a shop-floor library at Ford’s car factory in Dagenham. Eva is an RD1st accredited coach (ILM Level 7 equivalent).


Published: 13 September 2021

class="post-46349 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news"Write Across London: Submit your poetry to feature on poetry map of the citya purple map of London featuring red location pins

Submit your poems to be part of a unique project showcasing the creativity of Londoners, celebrating the power of poetry to bring us together in times of isolation.  

Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London Cecilia Knapp is a Poet Ambassador for Royal Society of Literature’s Write Across London initiative. She is calling on Londoners to submit a poem to feature on the interactive poetry map of London. Whatever stage you’re at in your writing life, and wherever you live in London, you can submit a poem.

Cecilia is one of ten Poet Ambassadors for the project, a lineup which includes former Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola and London Writers Awards alum Jamie Hale, and are RSL Chair Daljit Nagra, Raymond Antrobus, Natalie Linh Bolderstone, Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown, Imtiaz Dharker, Inua Ellams and Mimi Khalvati.

Submit your poem and view the map here:

The closing date for poems is 7 October 2021, National Poetry Day.

Write Across London is a Royal Society of Literature project funded by London Community Response Fund and City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity Bridge House Estates.

Published 7 September 2021

class="post-46357 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"KnappChats Part Four: Cecilia Knapp in conversation with Vanessa Kisuulea composite image of Vanessa Kisuule and Cecilia Knapp

KnappChats is Young People’s Laureate for London Cecilia Knapp’s series of conversations with writers whose work she loves. The series gives space to writers doing incredible things with their creativity from a range of perspectives, showcases different journeys into writing, and explores the power of writing.

In this fourth and final edition of KnappChats,  Cecilia sits down to chat with poet and former Bristol City Poet Vanessa Kisuule. In a wide-ranging chat, they touch on ideas of certainty and uncertainty in writing, different pathways into poetry, and the craft and poetics of performance. The video is subtitled.


Published 6 September 2021