Recipients of the Early Career Bursaries 2024 Announced


“Judging the Early Career Bursary this year was a huge honour and also very exciting. The standard of the work was off the scale, which made the process bittersweet. Sweet in that almost all the reading was very very pleasurable, and bitter in that it was so very hard to choose our winners. This is an excellent prize and opportunity for any emerging writer and our winners are a stellar cohort. This has been a privilege.” Monique Roffey, Judge for the 2024 programme

Spread the Word, London’s literature development agency, is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2024 Early Career Bursaries for London Writers. They are narrative non-fiction writers A. D. Aaba Atach and Vic Eveline, and short story writer Sarah Cotton. Each writer is awarded a bursary of £15,000, with £10,000 being awarded as cash and £5,000 towards talent development, including mentoring. 

The Early Career Bursaries for London Writers aim to make a significant difference to writers’ development of their craft and support career progression with no expectation of a defined output. The annual Bursary programme is for unagented and unpublished writers who are on a low income. 

The need for early career writers to receive support is stark. Unlike other artistic professions there is no defined career pathway for writers. It is particularly true for writers whose voices are underrepresented in the UK’s publishing industry who do not have the networks and connections to support them to take their first steps as a writer.  

Developing her creative non-fiction project How Dare a Woman, A. D. Aaba Atach says: “In the pursuit of an inclusive publishing industry, few organisations actually champion writers on a low income by recognising our talent and contributions to the literary world. Being awarded the Early Career Bursary is not merely a privilege; it’s a sanctuary that nurtures the literary potential of those whose stories were often borrowed and written by others more fortunate. I am immensely grateful to have been given this opportunity to join a supportive community of writers in London and develop my craft to its fullest extent.”

Developing her untitled narrative non-fiction project, Vic Eveline says: “I feel immensely grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity to accelerate my development as a writer. The support of Spread the Word and the Early Career Bursary will allow me to put my writing front and centre of my life and really focus on getting the words out and taking my writing to the next level — something I am all too aware is an unaffordable luxury for so many writers.  It’s a big step forward for me and I’m both nervous and excited to see what the year will bring.”  

Developing her collection of short stories entitled Between the Walls, Sarah Cotton says: “It’s incredibly encouraging to be chosen for this bursary. The generous financial component will relieve pressure and allow me to focus on my writing while the tailored support will motivate me to progress and guide me to develop and sustain a creative practice. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to participating in the programme.”

The Bursaries are made possible by a generous philanthropic gift from Sam and Rosie Berwick, who won the 2022 Achates Prize for Individual Philanthropy for the programme. The 2024 judges were Monique Roffey, Patrice Lawrence and Santanu Bhattacharya.

Sam and Rosie Berwick, donors, say: “Writing and the reading of that writing are critical to who we all are and will become.  Both of us are thrilled with how the first year of the bursary programme has evolved and are both unreservedly looking forward to working with the amazing Spread the Word and more exceptional writers over the next twelve months.”

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word, says: “We are delighted to continue the Early Career Bursaries for London Writers and support these three talented writers. It comes at a time when the cost of living crisis continues to impact on writers’ ability to create the time and space to develop their work and make a career as an author. It’s more clear now than ever that we’re at risk of losing a generation of talent. We thank Sam and Rosie Berwick for their continued support in funding the programme.” 

Spread the Word and Sam and Rosie Berwick welcome a wider conversation with the publishing industry, philanthropists and funders on the need for philanthropic support for writers and equitable and accessible early career interventions to address the systemic barriers faced by writers on a low income in creating work and progressing a creative career.

The 2025 Early Career Bursaries programme will open for submissions in August 2024.

Published: 21 February 2024