We received a phenomenal 529 entries to this year’s Life Writing Prize. From a longlist of twelve entries, the judge, Hannah Lowe, Erica Wagner and Kwaku Osei-Afrifa selected Danny Brunton’s New Boy as the winning story and both Laura Morgan’s Small Talk and Xanthi Barker’s Paradoxical were highly commended for the Prize.
Danny will receive £1500, an Arvon course, two years membership to the Royal Society of Literature and development meetings with agent Robert Caskie of Caskie Mushens literary agency and with an editor at Unbound publishers. Laura and Xanthi will both receive £500, two development meetings with agent Robert Caskie of Caskie Mushens literary agency and with an editor at Unbound publishers, and be mentorship by Miranda Doyle and Cathy Rentzenbrink.
Congratulations Danny, Laura and Xanthi!
You can find out about their reactions and read their winning stories below.
Danny Brunton, winner of the Life Writing Prize 2018
On winning the prize, Danny says, ‘Winning this competition has given me confidence that I can write well, and that my story is worth telling. I appreciate that my voice has been heard and although my story is particular, it resonates with other people. The fact that the judges have read my work and found some merit in it has given me the encouragement I need to press on with my writing project. The prizes are great. I am really looking forward to the Arvon course and I am certain that the development meetings will prove to be a major step forward for me.’
Laura Morgan, highly commended for the Life Writing Prize 2018
On being highly commended for the Prize, Laura says: ‘I almost didn’t enter this competition: I wasn’t sure what I’d composed was life writing in the usual sense. I’m so grateful to the judges for giving it their consideration. To set something down without fiction’s armour is scary; for someone to read it and say this has worth… that’s affirming. Part of this stunning prize is the chance to discuss your work with an agent/editor, which feels momentous. Spread the Word’s commitment to new writers is rare and inestimable. I’m delighted to be highly commended in this wonderful competition.’
Photo credit of Laura Morgan © Rob McDougall
Xanthi Barker, highly commended for the Life Writing Prize 2018
On being highly commended for the Prize, Xanthi said: ‘Initially, sheer panic. What have I done? What did I write? This is something I wrote in the middle of the night after my dad’s third anniversary when I was living on my mum’s sofa following a break-up. Now people might actually read it. I had to take some deep breaths before fear gave way to amazement and gratitude. I’m completely chuffed the piece was chosen and excited to read the other stories. It’s such a lonely and uncomfortable process writing anything, the support Spread the Word gives writers is invaluable.’
The Life Writing Prize was formed in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre in 2016. It was established to celebrate and develop life writing in the UK thanks to a generous donation from Joanna Munro. Find out more about the Prize here.