The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award will see its prize money double in a new sponsorship deal with the Charlotte Aitken Trust, a charity set up by former agent Gillon Aitken in his will.
Prize money for both winner and shortlistees will increase to £10,000 and £1,000 respectively. The timeline will also change, with the shortlist being announced in January 2022 instead of November, and the winner in February rather than December.
When Aitken passed away in 2016, his will left instructions for the majority of his money to go into the creation of a new charity to encourage literary talent in memory of his daughter (pictured with her father), who died at the age of 27. The partnership with the Young Writer of the Year Award is the charity’s first nationwide announcement.
Novelist Sebastian Faulks, chair of the Charlotte Aitken Trust, said: “To be encouraging young writers in Charlotte’s name is absolutely the sort of thing we want to be doing. The prize itself, with its previous sponsors, the University of Warwick and Peters Fraser & Dunlop, has a fantastically good track record – not just for picking up writers of promise, but writers of achievement –– people who have gone on to have very good careers. It has great history and value to us, and we are thrilled to be a partner.”
Literary agent Clare Alexander, a trustee, said: “The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award is without equal in discovering new writers and in giving them vital encouragement in the early stages of their career. I know how happy Gillon would be that one of our first sponsorships is of a prize that fulfils his intentions so fully, not only in enabling talent to flourish, but in supporting youth and literary ambition.”
The prize has previously had successful partnership with organisations including the University of Warwick, the London Library and the literary magazine Granta. It will now be working to extend these partnerships across the literary world.
Set up in 1991, and open to British and Irish authors of 35 or under writing in any genre, the Young Writer of the Year Award has a record in spotting future writers of real significance. Zadie Smith, Robert Macfarlane, poet laureate Simon Armitage, Sarah Waters, Willian Dalrymple, Francis Spufford, Naomi Alderman, Max Porter, Raymond Antrobus and Sally Rooney are just some of its previous winners.
Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times literary editor, added: “This is a significant moment for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. We have a heritage that any literary award would be proud of, but joining with the Charlotte Aitken Trust in the goal of supporting and championing young writing in the UK and Ireland is a huge boost. We share so much with the trust, and together we will be able to significantly increase what we can offer to new young writers. I feel honoured that the trustees felt we were a worthy partner, and really excited about what we can now achieve together.”
Last year, the award went to the Jay Bernard for the poet's collection Surge (Vintage). Submissions for the first Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award are now open and will close on 31st August 2021.
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