The next DRF WRITERS AWARD will open for submissions
in the spring of 2023 and the Award will be
made in the later part of that year.
The DRF Writers Award gives £10,000 to a previously unpublished writer whose submission of 15,000-20,000 words demonstrates talent. The submitted work can be fiction, non-fiction, children’s or short stories. The applicant must be a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Eire.
Details of the Award are as follows:
• Applications should be made after the opening date has been announced via the website www.deborahrogersfoundation.org.
• An award of £10,000 is presented to a first-time prose writer whose submission demonstrates talent and work worthy of publication. There is a shortlist of three, and the two runners-up each receive £1,000.
• Submissions should take the form of 15,000-20,000 thousand words of a work in progress, fiction or non-fiction.
• Applicants may not be under contract or option to any publisher for any work or title in any language, nor may they be agented.
• Applications are only open to writers who have not previously published or self-published a full-length book (with the exception of a collection of poetry).
• The applicant must write in the English language and be a citizen of the British Commonwealth and Eire.
• Submissions should be accompanied by a brief synopsis and a short biographical note.
• Applicants who submitted work for previous Writers Awards may re-apply but the work submitted must be new.
Every submission is read at least three times by a team of readers at RCW who select a longlist of about eight entries which the Judges will read “blind”. The longlisted authors will be revealed on the website once the judges have chosen a shortlist of three. Applicants will be notified if their work is chosen for the longlist. Longlisted authors will be offered an editorial consultation with an agent at RCW.
The previous Winners of the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award
The winner of the 2021 DRF Writers Award was Mathelinda Nabugodi for The Trembling Hand: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive. It has subsequently been sold at auction to Hamish Hamilton (UK) and Knopf (US). The two runners-up were Yasmine Awwad for The Shrills and Sophie Meadows for The Frog.
The winner Mathelinda Nabugodi is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge where she researches the literary archive of Percy Bysshe Shelley. She is one of the editors of The Poems of Shelley and has published articles on his poetry and translations as well as on the work of Walter Benjamin. She is the first person to be awarded a PhD in Creative Critical Writing from University College London. Her next archival exploration will be at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, where she is set to take up a short-term fellowship in the coming year.
Mathelinda said on winning the award: ‘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.’
The winner of the 2020 DRF Writers Award was ‘Pemi Aguda for The Suicide Mothers. In second place was Stephen Buoro for The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa and in third place S. Bhattacharya-Woodward for Zolo and Other Stories. All three titles were works of fiction.
‘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.”
The winner of the 2018 DRF Writers Award was Deepa Anappara for her novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Since winning the prize this novel has been sold in over 21 territories and was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a Literary Supernova”.
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.”
The runners-up were Dima Alzayat for Daughters of Manat & Other Stories which was published as Alligator & Other Stories and Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us. Both titles are collections of stories.
The winner of the inaugural 2016 DRF Writers Award was Sharlene Teo for her novel Ponti. Since winning the award this novel has been sold in 10 countries.
Sharlene said: “Winning the Deborah Rogers Award was life-changing and provided me with the confidence and support to finish my novel.”
The runners-up were Guy Stagg for The Crossway, a memoir, and Imogen Hermes Gower for her novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.
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, alternating with the Deborah Rogers Foundation David Miller Internship Programme which offers work placements in publishing houses and agencies worldwide and £10,000 to cover travel and accommodation costs. The first winner, in 2017, was Sam Coates, senior rights executive at Vintage UK and the second, in 2019 was Prema Raj, of AM Heath.