Northern Writers' Awards gives £47k worth of prizes to 27 writers

Northern Writers' Awards gives £47k worth of prizes to 27 writers

Twenty-seven writers have been recognised at this year's annual Northern Writers’ Awards, sharing the £47,000 prize fund to enable their new writing in progress, across forms including prose, poetry and television.  

Almost 2,000 writers applied across the north this year, setting a new record. The award was founded by New Writing North in 2000, and seeks to recognise talent and foster new work towards publication or broadcast, offering support to writers at all stages of their careers. This year's awards were judged by the writers Cathy Rentzenbrink and Jacob Ross, who judged fiction and narrative non-fiction categories, and poet Andrew McMillan, a previous Northern Writers’ Award winner, who judged the poetry categories.

Adam Farrer won the £5,000 NorthBound Book Award, which is supported by the University of York and will see his book of linked essays about his family and the community in the Yorkshire coastal town, Withernsea, published by Saraband.

Farrer said: “During the writing of my manuscript, I lost count of the times when I wondered why I was doing it. There I was, an up-and-coming writer, working away on these stories about my family and my experiences in an area of the East Yorkshire coast that few people seemed to know or care about. But the motivating force that pushed me past this always came from my belief that the people and the place I was focusing on were valid and deserved to be written about. Winning the NorthBound Book Award, and getting to work with a renowned publisher like Saraband, has given me the confidence to believe that these stories, and my voice, deserve to be heard.” 

Headteacher Andy Ruffell won the Hachette Children's Novel Award for his manuscript. Ruffell had previously never shared his writing beyond the classroom walls but has now won an advance of £5,000 as part of a publishing contract with Hachette Children’s Books. He said: “I will be covered in bruises for weeks as I haven’t stopped pinching myself. Winning the Hachette Children’s Novel Award has given me the enormous luxury of being able to believe in myself as a writer. I just can’t wait to get started on my sequel!” 

Hilary Murray Hill, c.e.o at Hachette Children’s Group, added: “At Hachette, we are committed to recognising, nurturing and developing creative writing talent in the north and our work alongside the New Writing North Team has been a deeply rewarding manifestation of that commitment. Publishers are always hoping to find exciting new authors and there’s a wealth of them in the north. Our relationship with NWN feels like a genuine collaboration in every sense and a real team effort. We look forward to a brilliantly creative and successful publishing relationship with Andy, and send many congratulations to all the winners.” 

This year’s Channel 4 Writing for Television Award winners were K B Jacobs and Lucy Burke, who each win a £3,000 award and will spend nine months on a placement with independent production companies Bonafide Films and Lime Pictures respectively. Jacobs is an emerging writer and actress who most recently played Hermione in Erica Whyman's production of "The Winter's Tale" at the RSC. She said: “Writing gives you a voice in a way that the spoken word in the world doesn't often allow. There is no one to silence you, talk over you or ignore you; it's just you and the page, it's a safe, private and freeing place to be. So when you share your work with perfect strangers it's a daunting experience. To then have your work recognised to the point of winning this award is such an incredible moment."

The Northern Writers’ Awards are sponsored by Arts Council England and Northumbria University along with a host of publishing, media and higher education partners including Channel 4, Hachette Children’s Group and the University of York.  

Will Mackie, senior programme manager at New Writing North, said: “We’re thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Northern Writers’ Awards and look forward to supporting these writers through the varied elements of our programme. Our nurturing approach to working with writers gives them the opportunity to enrich their craft and make meaningful connections to the publishing and broadcasting industries. The awards have an extraordinary track record of not only identifying talented writers based in the north but also of helping to develop work-in-progress into exciting and adventurous finished books."

The 2021 Northern Writers’ Awards in full:


Hachette Children’s Novel Award 

Andy Ruffell — Harrogate 


NorthBound Book Award 

Adam Farrer – Manchester  


Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards – Bonafide Films 

K B Jacobs – Stockton on Tees 


Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards – Lime Pictures 

Lucy Burke — Manchester 


Northern Writers’ Awards for Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction  

CD Rose – Calderdale 

Patricia Grace King — Durham 


Northern Writers’ Awards for Poetry 

Harry Man – Middlesbrough  

Suzannah Evans – Sheffield 


Northern Debut Awards for Fiction 

Gareth Hewitt – Ormskirk 

Sarah Brooks — Leeds 

Rob Schofield – North Yorkshire 


Andrea Badenoch Fiction Award 

Harminder Kaur — Hull 


Northern Debut Awards for Poetry 

Amelia Loulli – Penrith 

Jade Cuttle – Doncaster 

Katie Hale – Penrith  


The Sid Chaplin Award 

Gary Evans – North Shields (winner) 

Greg Forrester – Sunderland (highly commended)   


Northumbria University Student and Alumni Award 

Shaun Wilson — Cumbria 


The Word Factory Award 

Amy Stewart — York 


TLC Free Reads Scheme 

Katharine Goda — Durham 

M B Shah – Bradford 


Arvon Award  

Sarah Corbett – Hebden Bridge 


Young Northern Writer Award  

Megumi Hoshiko – Wirral (winner, Year 7-9)  

Lily Tibbitts – Amble (winner, Year 10+)  

Connie Schoales – Northumberland (highly commended, Year 7-9) 

Jennifer Mabbott – Manchester (highly commended, Year 10+) 


Matthew Hale Award 

Lacey Williamson – Barnsley