Spread the Word announces judges for 2019 Life Writing Prize


Spread the Word is pleased to announce the judges for the 2019 Life Writing Prize, run in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre. The 2019 judges are: author and historian Colin Grant, poet and playwright Inua Ellams and novelist and academic Ros Barber.  

Free to enter, the Prize aims to find the best life writing from emerging writers from across the UK. The Prize defines life writing as ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction.

Colin Grant said: “Life writing is the most dynamic form of storytelling around just now; it connects with readers who speedily see the universal in the particular, and offers a deep dive into the human psyche, reminding us, as Jamaicans say, that ‘all a-we is one’. Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize provides a platform for the very best and daring writing to come through.”

Ros Barber said: “Life writing, purely because of its basis in truth, has the capacity to be funnier, darker, and more moving, than any work of fiction. We yearn to know other human beings more intimately in order to deepen our understanding of this strange thing called life, and life writing gives us a way in. I’m excited to be judging the 2019 Spread the Word Life Writing Prize and look forward to reading the submissions.”

Inua Ellams said: “I will be looking for specificity within the language, for a clear sense of place, time, voice, character, but above all, beauty and sort of transcendency of the architecture of writing.”

The 2019 Life Writing Prize winner will receive £1,500, publication on Spread the Word’s website, an Arvon course, two years’ membership to the Royal Society of Literature and a development meeting with an editor and an agent. Two highly commended entries will each receive £500 and two mentoring sessions, a development meeting with an editor and an agent, and be published on the Spread the Word website. Three writers will be shortlisted, and six will be longlisted.

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word said: ‘We are excited to be working with the judges and Goldsmiths’ Writers Centre on this unique Prize, which not only celebrates the range and vitality of life writing in the UK but also has the development of writers at its heart. In 2018, 64% of submissions came from outside of London and we’re hoping that for the 2019 Prize we will get to read and hear the voices of writers from across all of our communities.’

The winner of the 2019 Life Writing Prize will be announced at the Prize ceremony taking place at Goldsmiths, University of London on Wednesday 15 May 2019.

Thanks to the generous donation that made the Prize happen, there is no fee for entering.

The 2018 Prize was won by Danny Brunton for his story ‘New Boy‘ (available to read here). He says that ‘winning the competition has given me recognition and a massive boost of confidence to continue with my writing project.’

The Prize opens for entry from Monday 5 November 2018 at midday. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm on Friday 1 February 2019.

Published 1 November 2018