The Women's Prize for Fiction award ceremony has been postponed until September because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organisers had planned to hold the ceremony on 3rd June but it has now been put back until 9th September. It marks the first postponement in the history of the award, which turns 25 this year.
The six-book shortlist will still be announced as planned on 22nd April but the shortlist readings event has also been put back until September.
In a statement on the prize's website, founder Kate Mosse said: “These are uncharted waters and everyone – wherever they are, whoever they are – finds themselves in a world turned upside down. Now we need stories more than ever. On the pages of a book, we can travel anywhere, we can stand in other people’s shoes, we can marvel at the resilience of the human spirit, we can feel and hope and wonder. We can be reminded that hope will come after the darkest hour. Novels are the bridge that join us together and, although reading is the most private of occupations, it’s also a wonderful way to connect with one another in these disjointed times.”
Mosse told The Bookseller is was important to still aim for a live event, despite the recent pandemic-imposed trend for other ceremonies to hold virtual ceremonies online. She said: “Because it’s our 25th - and we want not only to celebrate this year’s shortlist & winner, but also to say thank you to all the hundreds of people who’ve made the prize such a success over this past quarter century - we wanted to gather together and properly mark the occasion. Virtual events are amazing - and such clever things are happening - but we decided bringing everyone together was worth waiting for.
"Obviously, no one knows where things will be by then, but getting all the authors and judges (as well as all those who’ve judged or been on the list before) into the same place seems really important and something to look forward to.”
The longlist for the prize was announced in March, featuring Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and the Light (4th Estate), Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton) and Candice Carty-Williams's debut Queenie (Trapeze) among the 16 titles.
The judges of the prize are writer and activist Scarlett Curtis; Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train; businesswoman Martha Lane Fox in the role of chair; Melanie Eusebe, co-founder of the Black British Business Awards; and author and comedian Viv Groskop.