Samuel Johnson seeks a sponsor

Samuel Johnson seeks a sponsor

The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction is seeking a new sponsor, following the conclusion of an "open-ended" arrangement with an anonymous donor which has funded the prize for the past three years. 

Prior to that, the prize, which was set up in 1999, was supported by the BBC. The winner's announcement and dinner in 2015 will be hosted by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by US philanthropist Len Blavatnik.

Stuart Proffitt, Penguin Press publishing director and chair of the Samuel Johnson Prize steering committee, said: "The Samuel Johnson Prize is in excellent health. During the last few years it has grown dramatically and is now undoubtedly the premier non-fiction prize in the UK. We have lots of exciting plans for the future. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the right person or organisation.”

The prize is now said to be looking to expand its profile in the US and build a public events programme around the award. 

Earlier this year, the steering committee of the prize appointed Toby Mundy, former Atlantic Books c.e.o. and founder of the TMA Agency, as prize director, tasked with promoting the prize year round.

The judges for this year's prize are historian Anne Applebaum; Emma Duncan, associate editor of the Economist; Sumit Paul-Choudhury, editor of New Scientist; Oxford University professor Rana Mitter; and former controller of film and drama, and head of Film 4, Tessa Ross. They will look for the follow-up to last year's winner, H is for Hawk by Hannah Macdonald (Jonathan Cape), who took home the £20,000 awarded to the winning author.

The Samuel Johnson is not the only prize currently in search of a sponsor. Last week, it was announced that the Folio Society would not renew its sponsorship of the Folio Prize, known as the Literature Prize before the deal was arranged. The £40,000 prize is hoping to have a sponsor in place so it can awarded again in spring 2016.

In 2012, Orange announced it would not renew its sponsorship of the Women's Prize for Fiction after 17 years of involvement with the prize. In 2013, it was privately funded by backers including Cherie Blair, before drinks company Baileys signed a three-year sponsorship deal beginning in 2014.