The £10,000 Portico Prize will return after a four-year absence with a new partnership with the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Blogger and broadcaster Simon Savidge will chair the panel for the 2019 prize with fellow judges including actor Holliday Grainger, who starred in the BBC adaptation of J K Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels, as well as writer and performer Kate Fox, novelist Zahid Hussain and Jean Sprackland, professor of creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Established by the Portico Library in Manchester in 1985, the biennial prize is the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North. It last ran in 2015 and featured both a fiction and non-fiction component but now the one relaunched prize comprises the formats of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
The judges will choose a shortlist of six books from a longlist of up to 15, which will be selected by the Portico Prize’s newly formed Society of Readers and Writers, featuring 15 locally based publishers, authors, librarians, book sellers and critics. The longlist will be announced in September, followed by the shortlist in November. The winner of the £10,000 award will be announced at a ceremony at The Portico Library in January 2020.
To mark the return of prize, the Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University will host ‘Rewriting the North’, a series of events celebrating writers and writing connecting to the North of England. In each event two leading writers will read from their work and will discuss the role that ‘place’ plays in their creative practice. Sprackland and Jacob Polley will discuss ‘Writing, Place and Memory’ at the first event in the series on 30th May.
James Draper, manager of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, said it “feels like a great moment for Manchester Metropolitan University to be supporting the Portico Library in relaunching their prize”.
He added: “We are excited to be working together to create opportunities for writer development, from inspirational workshops for new writers to residencies and commissions for those further on in their career – in Manchester, or at organisations in fellow Cities of Literature around the world.”
Lynne Allan, chair of the 212-year-old independent Portico Library said “A new, dynamic partnership between this iconic library and Manchester Metropolitan University, based in the newly designated UNESCO City of Literature, is ideally placed to nurture and promote creativity in the region and beyond, with the belief that books and education bring life-enhancing opportunities to all.”
Savidge, who runs the Savidge Reads blog, and will chair the judging panel,said: “I am thrilled and delighted to be chairing the Portico Prize this year, as it returns to the literary calendar, bigger and bolder than ever. The Prize combines three things I love: fantastic books, libraries and the North of England, all of which I am passionate about as an avid book-lover and Northerner."
Previous winners have included Benjamin Myers and Richard Benson, with Anthony Burgess, Val McDermid, Sarah Hall, A S Byatt, Hilary Mantel and Simon Armitage also among previous winners and shortlistees.
Publishers are now invited to submit works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry published between 1st January 2017 and 31st July 2019. Each of the shortlisted authors will be gifted with honorary membership of The Portico Library in 2020. The deadline for submissions is 31st July 2019. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.