Orange to cease sponsorship of Fiction Prize

Orange will not renew its title sponsorship of The Women's Prize for Fiction after this year's award, to be made on 30th May.

The mobile services company, which has been the award's sponsor since the prize was first set up 17 years ago, is to focus on its film industry sponsorship going forward.

Kate Mosse, co-founder and honorary director of the Prize (pictured), said she was "in active discussions with a number of potential new sponsors" and was hopeful of being able to announce a replacement by the end of the summer.

Mosse told The Bookseller: "It sounds daft but we're very excited about the future of the prize going forward. It is very, very unusual for a massive arts sponsorship like this to come onto the market, it has great value, and this is a moment to be looking to the future, that's how the business community has reacted."

She added: "Orange has put millions into the book market, not just the Prize, but also in literacy and library projects, and for that they deserve a massive pat on the back. Now our aim is to grow the Prize and we're looking for a sponsor interested in engaging not just in the UK but internationally."

Steven Day, chief of brand and communications for Everything Everywhere, said: "While relinquishing sponsorship of the Prize is tinged with sadness, we're hugely proud of what Orange and the Women's Prize for Fiction have achieved over the past 17 years." He added: "The partnership has significantly raised the presence of international literature written by women in bookstores and on bookshelves across the country, and has played a
key part in Orange's success over the past decade and a half, taking our brand into areas that were traditionally harder to reach."

The Prize is awarded annually to any woman writing in English, with the winner receiving a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a "Bessie". Both these prizes are anonymously endowed and will not be affected by the cessation of Orange's sponsorship. The new title sponsor, who will be making "a significant investment", according to Mosse, will put funding into the award ceremony itself, the prize point of sale, and promotion of the prize to the international market.

Bloomsbury has three titles on this year’s Orange Prize shortlist: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Georgina Harding’s Painter of Silence. The other shortlisted titles are Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail), Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (Atlantic) and Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz (Jonathan Cape). The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall.

The 2011 winner was Tea Obrecht for The Tiger's Wife (Weidenfeld & Nicholson).