Clarke, Antrobus and debut author Youngson triumph at SoA awards

Clarke, Antrobus and debut author Youngson triumph at SoA awards

James Clarke, Raymond Antrobus and 70-year-old debut novelist Anne Youngson are among the winners of this year's Society of Authors' Awards, which total £100,000. 

Manchester-born James Clarke won the £10,000 Betty Trask Prize for The Litten Path (Salt), a story about the 1980s miners’ strike, while Burley Fisher bookseller Samuel Fisher also took home the £2,700 Betty Trask Award for The Chameleon (again, published by Salt). Rathbones Folio prize-winning poet Antrobus [pictured] scooped the £4,000 Somerset Maugham Award for The Perseverence (Penned in the Margins) as Youngson won the £1,000 inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize for Meet Me at the Museum (Doubleday).

Overall 32 writers won awards, sharing a £100,000 prize fund, in a ceremony, hosted by poet Jackie Kay with an introduction by SoA president Philip Pullman, celebrating diverse voices at Southwark Cathedral tonight (Monday 17th June). 

Romany writer Damian Le Bas won both a Somerset Maugham Award for The Stopping Places (Chatto & Windus) and a Travelling Scholarship; Syrian born Dima Alzayat scooped the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award for Once We Were Syrians and Julian Jackson took home the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle (Allen Lane).

Also winning awards were double Eric Gregory Award winner, poet Sophie Collins (a winner in 2014 and 2019) for Who is Mary Sue? (Faber & Faber) and 2019 Women’s Prize longlisted Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, winner of the 2019 McKitterick Prize, for Swan Song (Hutchinson).

The judges for each award, including Kate Mosse, Gary Younge, Mark Lawson, Anita Sethi, Vaseem Khan, Susan Hill, Stuart Evers, Irenosen Okojie and Jen Campbell were united in their praise for the “mesmeric, restless, genre-bending, emotionally devastating writing from 32 writers who have taken us from the miners’ strike and travelling communities, to Truman Capote’s mind, each exploring the gamut of human experience from friendship, family and belonging, to what it means to be other.”

Host Kay added: “I'm enormously proud and gratified to have been granted this most lovely opportunity of presenting writers with the Society of Authors’ Awards. These awards, I know from personal experience, are potentially life-changing. They bring writers in from the cold. They give writers a huge boost and validation. They tell them that their trials and tribulations have been worth it after all, after the long haul. Writing is a confidence game, and often writers' confidence is shot to pieces. An award like this can put self-doubt in the cupboard for a while.”