Rathbone Investment Management has been confirmed as the new sponsor of the Folio Prize, which will become the Rathbones Folio Prize. The sponsorship deal is for an initial three years, with the first award to be made in May 2017.
As revealed by The Bookseller in October, the prize will now include non-fiction for the first time, with a remit to go to "the best new work of literature published in the English language in a given year, regardless of genre."
Prize money for the award will halve from £40,000 to £20,000. However there will be new initiatives, including a writers' mentorship scheme in association with the charity First Story. The scheme will see members of the Folio Academy – the 250-strong group of writers who form the Prize's de facto governing body – mentoring aspiring young writers. There will also be a series of literary workshops, lectures and debates held throughout the year, under the name of Rathbones Folio Sessions.
Novelist and PalFest founder Ahdaf Soueif will chair the judging panel for 2017.
Uniquely, nominations for the Folio, now Rathbones Folio, Prize are made from its Academy members. The Academy has been expanded to include non-fiction writers, to reflect the award's new remit. Among the new writers joining the Academy are William Dalrymple, Amanda Foreman, Andrew Marr, Fergal Keane and Jon Ronson.
The 2017 shortlist, covering books published in the calendar year January to December 2016, will be revealed in March. However there will be no early longlist published, with publishers unable to comment or put forward other suggestions as in previous years. The rule changes will all be available today (13th December) on the prize website.
Prize co-founders Andrew Kidd and Kate Harvey said: "The prize was launched with the ambition of creating a new and clearer way of recognising outstanding achievement in literature. We are grateful to Rathbones for enabling it not only to continue in that mission but also to expand upon it. The prize, conceived from the outset as borderless, will now also be open to any form, with the sole aim of recognising the best book in a given year.
"In addition, under the leadership of our new director of development Minna Fry, we will be introducing new initiatives, which draw upon the unique asset that is the Folio Prize Academy. It is Rathbones's enthusiasm for these, as much as for the award itself, that makes us especially delighted at the prospect of working with them for years to come."
Rathbone Brothers c.e.o. Philip Howell said: "Rathbones is delighted to support this important prize, which celebrates the best in UK and world literary talent, and to secure its future for years to come. We also look forward to supporting the wider work of the Folio Academy, through a series of annual Rathbones Folio lectures and debates and the introduction of a mentoring programme for young writers. Rathbones has a long history of working with the community and is truly committed to supporting education, sports and the arts."
The Folio Prize ran for the first time in 2014, but was suspended for 2016, following the ending of its initial two-year sponsorship from The Folio Society.