The Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award 


The Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award was the first initiative of the Deborah Rogers Foundation, set up in 2015 in memory of the much loved and respected literary agent, Deborah Rogers. In keeping with Deborah’s special talent for nurturing and supporting emerging new writers, the Award gives £10,000 to a previously unpublished writer whose submission of 15,000- 20,000 words demonstrates literary talent and who needs financial support to complete their first book. The submitted work can be fiction, non-fiction, children’s or short stories. Applicants must reside in the British Commonwealth or Eire. The winner receives £10,000 and the two shortlisted authors £1,000 each. 

The Award is biennial. Entries for the Award are invited in January for judging in November of the same year. Typically there are 800-1,000 entries. For details of how to apply, please visit the Submissions Guidelines page. 

The 2023 Writers Award

Neil Rollinson DRF Award WinnerIn 2023 judges Abdulrazak Gurnah (chair), Claire Adam and Annalena McAfee judged a longlist of nine entries, and pronounced Neil Rollison as the winner of the 2023 Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award for his novel, The Dead Don ’t Bleed. The two runners up were Michelle Alipao Chikaonda for The Dying Embers of Our Setting Sun and Alicia McAuley for The Caul.

Neil Rollinson was born in Yorkshire and lives in the north east of England. He studied painting at St Martins School of Art and has published four collections of poetry with Jonathan Cape. He has spent most of his adult life teaching poetry at various universities in the UK, including Bath Spa, London University of the Arts, and Oxford Brookes. 

The Dead Don’t Bleed is his first foray into writing prose.  On receiving the 2023 Writers Award he commented, “I was extremely surprised and delighted to win the award. For a first time novelist still learning the ropes it was a great vote of confidence. This will give me the needed inspiration to continue on finishing and finalising the manuscript and of course the prize will enable me now to find the necessary time to commit to it without having to worry about other work, for a while.” 


Previous recipients of the DRF Writers Award


Sharlene Teo was the winner of the inaugural 2016 DRF Writers Award for her novel Ponti. Ponti was published by Picador (UK) and Simon and Schuster (US) in 2018. It was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award and Edward Stanford Award, and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. It has been translated into eleven languages.

Sharlene said: “Winning the Deborah Rogers Award was life-changing and provided me with the confidence and support to finish my novel.”


Guy Stagg was a runner-up for the 2016 DRF Writers Award for his memoir, The Crossway, a memoir. The Crossway was published by Picador and was the Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year 2019 , as well as being shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award. It was also a BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week'. His next book, The World Within, is about the role of retreat in creative lives. It will be published in 2025.


Imogen Hermes Gower was a runner-up for the 2016 DRF Writers Award for her novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.  The novel sold in a 10-way auction and was published in 2018 by Harvill Secker (UK) and  Harper Perennial (US). It has  been translated into ten languages and enjoyed critical success all over the world.  It is a winner of the Betty Trask award, a finalist for the MsLexia First Novel Prize, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, the National Book Awards and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and longlisted for the Desmond Eliot Prize and the HWA Debut Crown.  She has had stories published in collections: HAG (Virago 2020) and The Haunting Season (Little, Brown 2021) and is currently working on a novel with Arts Council Funding about Lady Eleanor Talbot (c.1436-68).



Deepa Anappara was the winner of the 2018 DRF Writers Award for her novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Published by Chatto & Windus (UK)  and Random House (US) in 2020, it has been translated into 22 languages and was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a Literary Supernova”. Named as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time and NPR. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, and shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Indian Literature. Time included it in its list of  ‘The 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time’. 

Deepa said: “Winning the DRF Writers Award and listening to the helpful comments of the judges gave me both the permission and conviction I needed to finish my novel.”

Deepa Anappara is the co-editor of Letters to a Writer of Colour, a collection of personal essays on fiction, race, and culture, published in 2023. Her second novel, The Last of Earth, will be published by Random House in the US and Oneworld in the UK in 2025.


Dima Alzayat was a runner-up for the 2018 DRF Writers Award  for Daughters of Manat & Other Stories which was published as Alligator & Other Stories. The collection was published by Picador (UK) and Two Dollar Radio (US). It was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for Debut Short Story Collection, the 2021 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, and the 2021 James Tait Black Memorial Prize.


Chris Connolly was a runner-up for the 2018 DRF Writers Award for his story collection, The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us



 ‘Pemi Aguda was the winner of the 2020 DRF Writers Award was for her novel, The Suicide Mothers.  The novel, and a collection of short stories, Ghostroots has been acquired by Virago  (UK), WW Norton (US) and Masobe in Nigeria. Ghostroots will be published in the US on 7 May 2024 and in the UK on 6 June 2024.  The Suicide Mothers will be published in 2025. 

‘Pemi said: “As artists, our financial lives are so precarious and so receiving support of this size, especially now, fills me with peace about the near future. So, thank you.”

Stephen Buoro was awarded second place for his novel, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa. It was published in the UK and US by Bloomsbury, April 2023 and shortlisted for the Nero Book Awards: Debut Fiction (2023). An Observer Best Debut Novelist, that paper named The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa a Book of the Year 2023. It has been published in Germany and Spain, and is currently being translated into Italian.

S.Bhattacharya-Woodward was awarded third place for her short story collection,  Zolo and Other Stories



Mathelinda Nabugodi  was the winner of the 2021 DRF Writers Award for The Trembling Hand: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive, a work of non-fiction to be published by Hamish Hamilton (UK) and Knopf  (US) in Spring 2025. 

Mathelinda said: "Winning the DRF Writers Award is such a wonderful validation of my work. I am so gratified to know that my attempt to stage a fresh and honest encounter with the Romantic archive has resonated with the judges and all the prize readers."

Yasmine Awwad was a runner-up for the 2021 Writers Award for her work of fiction, The Shrills.

Sophie Meadows was a runner-up for the 2021 Writers Award for her work of fiction, The Frog