Williams hails 'forward thinking' Women's Prize shortlist, but accident-hit Mosse misses celebration

Williams hails 'forward thinking' Women's Prize shortlist, but accident-hit Mosse misses celebration

Women's Fiction Prize co-founder Kate Mosse missed last night's celebration for the 2019 award shortlist after being knocked off her bike in central London.

Hours before the event at sponsor Fremantle's Stephen Street headquarters, Mosse was knocked off her bike in central London. Organisers said she was not seriously injured but was unable to attend the event for the first time in 24 years.

Mosse tweeted: "So, for the first time in 24 years, I’ll not be there to celebrate @WomensPrize shortlist @FremantleHQ (a long story involving my  bike) Have a fabulous evening - especially our shortlisted authors - & see you all at the #BaileysBookBar events all this week @WaterstonesTCR."

Two hundred guests including Natalie Dormer, Helen Lederer and shortlisted authors Anna Burns and Diana Evans attended the event. Chair of the judging panel Professor Kate Williams praised Mosse, saying: "We are always and forever inspired by amazing Kate Mosse who is looking after herself tonight, whose strength and brilliance and flaming glorious championing of women's fiction and all writers is so inspiring."

Discussing the six-strong shortlist, Williams added: "We are overwhelmed and so thrilled by our incredible shortlist. They are searing, they are powerful, they are brilliant reads and they are women's writing at its best, they are writing at its best, fiction at its best, quite simply they blew us all away.

"Our meetings have been epic and passionate with so much involved and committed and exciting decision with many tough decisions but so much joy. We are so proud of our outward looking exciting shortlist in which there are retellings, hidden stories and amazing characters, two from America, one from Nigeria and three British authors and all of them are completely unforgettable."

Retellings of women in history dominate the prize, with Troubles-set Milkman by Burns (Faber), Pat Barker’s retelling of The Iliad, The Silence of the Girls (Hamish Hamilton), and previous winner Madeline Miller returning to the shortlist with Circe (Bloomsbury), a new take on the witch who seduces Odysseus. Debut author Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (Atlantic), Ordinary People by Diana Evans (Chatto & Windus) and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Oneworld) complete the shortlist. Three of the six - Barker, Evans and Braithwaite - are represented by agent Clare Alexander.

Journalist and critic Arifa Akbar, author and columnist Dolly Alderton, campaigner and psychotherapist Leyla Hussein and digital entrepreneur Sarah Wood join author and historian Williams on the judging panel. The winner will receive an anonymously endowed cheque for £30,000 at an award ceremony in central London on 5th June.