Carty-Williams, O'Leary and Winterson shortlisted for Comedy Women in Print Prize

Carty-Williams, O'Leary and Winterson shortlisted for Comedy Women in Print Prize

Novelists including Candice Carty-Williams, Beth O'Leary and Jeanette Winterson are in the running for the Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP).

The shortlists span three different categories – Published Comic Novel, Unpublished Comic Novel and Humorous Graphic Novel – with judges including Marian Keyes, Yomi Adegoke and Fanny Blake.

On the CWIP shortlist for Published Comic Novels are four books from Hachette's stables and two from Penguin Random House, plus one from Bloomsbury. The shortlist includes Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze), which won the British Book Awards' Book of the Year, and rom com The Flatshare by former PRH Children's staffer Beth O'Leary (Quercus). Also on the list are Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (John Murray); The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Headline); Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin Random House); Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson CBE (Jonathan Cape); and The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa (Bloomsbury). £3,000 is up for grabs, from the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS).

The shortlist was judged by Keyes, Lolly Adefope, Emma Kennedy, Pauline McLynn, Joanna Scanlan and Laura Steven.

The CWIP shortlist for Published Humorous Graphic Novel, new this year, includes a graphic novel guide to lesbian and queer history, Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth (Myriad Editions), Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern (Simon & Schuster), set 200 years ago in early 19th-century Britain, and Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape), dubbed a Christmas Carol for our time, featuring a selfish and solitary millionaire art dealer. Half of the shortlist is made up of self-published works: Was it... Too Much for You? by Danny Noble, full of nudity and slapstick; Stand in Your Power by Rachael Smith, about recovering from the grief of a break up, with mental anguish represented by two black dogs; and romantic comedy My Husband is a Cultist by Mei Lian Hoe. A cash prize is to be announced. The judges were author and former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Jen Brister, Dr Nicola Streeten and Paula Wilcox. 

The CWIP shortlist for Unpublished Comic Novel, judged by Yomi Adegoke, Fanny Blake, Kate Bradley, Grace Campbell, Kirsty Eyre and Dr Jennifer Young, meanwhile comprises: The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri; Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann; Everything Is Under Control by Annette Gordon; The Lady's Companion by Janey Preger; You Can Drop Me Here by Julia Walter; and Second Wife Syndrome by Kathleen Whyman. The winner will receive a publishing contract and a £5,000 advance from HarperFiction. The first first runner-up will receive £2,000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing, and an additional runner-up will receive a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University.

The UK and Ireland’s only awards to shine a light on witty writing by women, the CWIP was launched by Helen Lederer in 2019 in response to a lack of exposure for female comedy writing and to celebrate both fresh and established talent. 

The winners in each category will be revealed at 7 p.m. on 14th September in an online ceremony via YouTube at, due to Covid-19 restrictions, with an additional honorary award presented to the CWIP Witty Woman of the Year. A belated in-person celebration will take place at the Groucho Club on 25th January 2021.

Lederer said: "I am beyond excited to host this year’s CWIP winners’ with a plate of canapés (for myself) – all part of a high-tech digital extravaganza. We have so many exciting witty women to celebrate! Last year was very glam and we had to turn people away – this year we have inclusive, global partying for everyone online. Win win!"