The UK’s answer to the Nobel Prize for Literature – the £40,000 David Cohen Prize - is now being managed by New Writing North.
The award was established in 1992 and is awarded biannually to dramatists, essayists, biographers, novelists and poets, with previous winners including Tony Harrison, Hilary Mantel and Doris Lessing.
The prize, for a lifetime's achievement in literature, used to be managed by Arts Council England (ACE) and BookTrust, but will now be administered by New Writing North, the literature development agency for the North of England.
Claire Malcom, c.e.o of New Writing North, has previously campaigned for the publishing industry to be less London-centric and to represent more writers of colour, more working class voices and a better range of experiences, said that the organisation won the bid to run the prize because of its good work running other awards such as the Gordon Burns Prize and its Northern Writers’ Awards. But she added that wining the bid to run the prize would hopefully help to encourage the view that the publishing industry does not all revolve around London.
“We are saying we are here, and we do some good work, and you don’t have to based in London to be a brilliant job of running literary prizes," Malcom said. "You might have to travel to London, and certainly hold this party in London, but we are based in Newcastle and run some excellent national projects.”
The David Cohen Prize for Literature is funded by the John S Cohen Foundation, which was established by David Cohen and his family in 1965 to support education, the arts, conservation and the environment.
Dr David Cohen said: "I greatly welcome the involvement of New Writing North and I and my co-trustees look forward to working closely with them. I anticipate that with their help the David Cohen Prize for Literature will go from strength to strength."
Sarah Crown, director of literature, Arts Council England, said: “The David Cohen Prize for Literature is a unique and valuable feature of the UK’s literary landscape. I am delighted that, thanks to its new home with New Writing North, its future is assured, and look forward to seeing it flourish under their stewardship.”
Malcolm added: “It’s a real pleasure to get to work on growing the profile of this generous and important prize. The prize is unique – it’s our British equivalent to the Nobel Prize for Literature and as such deserves a much wider audience. We’re looking forward to bringing the work of such amazing writers to a wide national audience.”
Mark Lawson will act as chair of the judges for his fourth term and the David Cohen Prize for Literature will be awarded in November 2017 at an event in London.