Deborah Rogers Foundation Announces 2021 Writers Award

  • Submissions open on 1st April and close on 1st July 2021
  • Judges will be Colm Tóibín, Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud
  • Winner receives £10,000 to complete first book

The Deborah Rogers Foundation announces that submissions for the 2021 DRF Writers Award will open on 1st April and close on 1st July 2021.
The judges of the 2021 DRF Writers Award will be Colm Tóibín (Chair), Deepa Anappara, Anna James and Ingrid Persaud. They will announce the shortlist of three in November 2021 and the Award will be presented in London on 7th December 2021.       

The winner of the 2020 Writers Award was The Suicide Mothers by ‘Pemi Aguda.


£10,000 will be presented to a first-time writer whose submission demonstrates outstanding literary talent and who needs financial support to complete their work:

  • Submissions should take the form of 15,000 - 20,000 words of a work in progress, fiction or non-fiction, which is not agented, under option or contract.
  • Applicants may not be under contract to any publisher for any work or title in any language.
  • Applications are open to writers who have not previously published a full-length book of their own prose writing (including self-published or published on-line) excluding a collection of their own poetry.  They may have published short prose writing within a magazine/anthology.
  • Entrants must write in the English language and reside within the British Commonwealth or Eire.
  • Submissions should be accompanied with a brief synopsis and biographical note.
  • Applicants who submitted work for the DRF Writers Award previously may re-apply but the work submitted must be new.
  • Longlisted authors will be offered an editorial consultation with an agent at RCW.
  • The winner receives a cheque of £10,000 and each runner-up receives £1,000.


Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster and, most recently, The Magician, which will be published in September 2021. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, won the Costa Novel Award and the Impac Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.
Deepa Anappara was born in Kerala, southern India, and worked as a journalist in India for eleven years. Her debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was named as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post and Time. It was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and shortlisted for the JCB prize for Indian literature. A partial of the novel won the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writer’s Award, and the Bridport/Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel. It is being translated into 22 languages.

Anna James is a writer and arts journalist. She is the author of the bestselling Pages & Co series which has sold into 21 countries. The first three books in the series are out now, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in the UK and Penguin Young Readers in the US, with three more books to come. Formerly Book News Editor at The Bookseller and Literary Editor of ELLE UK, Anna is currently the host and co-curator of Lush Book Club, as well as writing about books and theatre as a freelance journalist for outlets including The Stage, the LA Times and Buzzfeed. She has also contributed stories for the Kate Mosse-edited collection, I Am Heathcliff, and Goldsboro Books’ 21st birthday anthology.

Ingrid Persaud was born in Trinidad and won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 and the BBC Short Story Prize 2018. She read law at the LSE and was a legal academic for many years before taking degrees in fine art at Goldsmiths College and Central Saint Martins. Her writing has appeared in Granta and Prospect magazines. Ingrid lives in London. Her debut novel, Love After Love, was published by Faber & Faber in 2020 and was the winner of the 2020 Costa First Novel Award.



A literary agent all her professional life, Deborah Rogers (1938-2014) set up her own agency in
1967, and twenty years later formed Rogers Coleridge & White with Gill Coleridge and Pat White. One of the most influential literary agents of her generation, Deborah was renowned for her taste, her loyalty and her immense generosity in the support she gave to authors. Her sudden death on 30th April 2014 sent a shockwave through the world of publishing and the many writers, publishers and agents whose lives she had touched. At the 2014 London Book Fair, Deborah was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing, the first agent to have received the honour. She accepted this with characteristic modesty:
“It hardly seems fair to be given an award for what has been a lifetime of such pleasure... those who have entrusted their work to us over the years will never know the intense pride that they have brought, and the anticipation and excitement that greets each new manuscript never palls. I have them to thank most of all.”


Deborah’s particular genius lay in identifying and supporting talented young people. The Deborah Rogers Foundation (DRF) was therefore set up in her memory to continue to seek out and support emerging talent in the publishing world specifically by means of two biennial awards:

  • The Writers Award which gives £10,000 to an unpublished writer to enable them to complete a first book
  • The DRF David Miller Bursary which offers work placements in publishing houses and literary agencies worldwide together with £10,000 to help a young agent gain international work experience

The Foundation is seeking to raise a further £75,000 to complete a total endowment of £250,000 to support these two Awards and secure their future for ten years or more.

Deepa, Ian, Sharlene - at Hay.jpg

Ian McEwan at the Hay Festival on 27th May 2018 with Deepa Anappara and Sharlene Teo – the winners of the 2016 and 2018 Writers Award.



The winner was ‘Pemi Aguda for The Suicide Mothers.

In second place was Stephen Buoro for The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, to be published by Bloomsbury in 2022. In third place was S. Bhattacharya-Woodward for Zolo and Other Stories.

The judges were Ian Rankin (Chair), Sarah Perry and Max Porter.

The winner was Deepa Anappara for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, published by Chatto & Windus UK and Random House US in 2020.

The runners-up were Dima Alzayat for Alligator & Other Stories (Picador 2020) and Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us.
The judges were Anne Enright (Chair), Peter Hobbs and Jenny Uglow.

The winner was Sharlene Teo for Ponti published by Picador UK and Simon & Schuster US in 2018.

The runners-up were Imogen Hermes Gowar for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (Harvill Secker 2018) and Guy Stagg for The Crossway (Picador 2018).  

The judges were Shena Mackay (Chair), Owen Sheers and Kate Summerscale.




Announcing the return of the DRF David Miller Internship Programme in partnership with Creative Access. Two paid internships providing an entry level insight into rights and agenting in publishing. Focus on attracting candidates from communities under-represented in the industry. Interviews in June, 6-week placements from mid-September including a visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair 2024.
April 2024 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Deborah Rogers, after which this Foundation was set up in her memory. So this seems the appropriate moment to celebrate the positive impact that the DRF has made to our industry by supporting emerging talent in the publishing world.
Winning candidates Milan Sehmbi and Wiggy Bob Snow spent six weeks on placement with literary agencies and publishing companies to gain an insight into the world of publishing rights.
Judges Abdulrazak Gurnah, Claire Adam and Annalena McAfee announce Neil Rollison as the winner of the 2023 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award for his work, The Dead Don’t Bleed.
Judges Abdulrazak Gurnah, Claire Adam and Annalena McAfee announce the shortlist for the 2023 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award.
Nobel Prize winner, Abdulrazak Gurnah, chairs a panel of three judges. The winner receives £10,000 to complete first book. DRF Writers Award to be presented on 9th November in London
The Writers Award longlist is now confirmed and successful entrants have been notified by email.
Applications for the DRF David Miller Internship programme for 2023 are now open. Interviews in mid July, placements from mid-September to run for 6 weeks.
Two paid internships providing an entry level insight into rights and agenting in publishing. Focus on attracting candidates from communities under-represented in the industry. Interviews in early July, placements from mid-September to run for 6 weeks.
On 31st March 2023 submissions to the DRF Writers Award closed. The longlisted writers will be contacted by email September 2023 and the winner will be announced October 2023