A new £10,000 prize to encourage and celebrate the work of older writers is being launched by the family and friends of the late Sir Christopher Bland, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Literature (RSL).
Bland (pictured), who died in 2017, chaired publishing house Canongate, as well as overseeing the BBC, British Telecom and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was knighted in 1993 for services to the NHS. Bland didn’t start writing until after his retirement, publishing début novel Ashes in the Wind (Head of Zeus) at the age of 76, followed by a second novel. Asked once if he had any advice for his teenage self, he said that he would have told himself “to forget all that other stuff” and become a writer, not a businessman.
The RSL Christopher Bland Prize will see £10,000 awarded annually to a writer of fiction or non-fiction, first published at the age 50 or over. Entries are now open for the inaugural prize, for authors whose books are published in the calendar year 2018. Judging will be novelist Gillian Slovo, writer and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, Sir Christopher Bland’s son Archie Bland, and Anne Chisholm, biographer and RSL vice-president.
RSL chair Lisa Appignanesi said: “It is wonderful that, thanks to the dynamism of Jennie Bland and her family, we are able to initiate a prize that honours Sir Christopher and his own late start as a writer, and to usher into the foreground of the literary world others like him.”
Bland's widow Jennie Bland commented: “Christopher was very happy to have been made an Honorary Fellow of the RSL in 2016 and his family are thrilled that the Society has agreed to include this prize in their impressive list of awards.”
The deadline for entries is 12th December, with the winner to be announced in May 2019. For further details, visit the RSL website.