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Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers

The Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers recognises excellence and creativity in literary publishing, awarding one independent publisher from the UK or Ireland a cash prize of £10,000.

At a glance

Clarissa Luard

This biennial award is made in memory of Clarissa Luard, a literature professional and valued supporter of writers and publishers.

Shortlisted publishers

Four publishers were shortlisted for the Clarissa Luard Award 2017. They are: Lantana Publishing, Little Toller Books, Peepal Tree Press, and Penned in the Margins.

The Judges

Meet the judges: Jenn Ashworth, Sharmaine Lovegrove, Gary McKeone and Helen Stanton.

Peepal Tree Press wins the Clarissa Luard Award 2017

Selected from a strong and inspiring shortlist, the judges were particularly impressed by Peepal Tree Press’ tenacity in a challenging market, and by its innovative proposal for the £10,000 prize money.

Peepal Tree Press was founded in Leeds in 1985 to publish the best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK, as well as Black British fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Its proposed project is to inaugurate a fortnightly radio-style programme, delivered as a podcast, entitled The New Caribbean Voices, in honour of the BBC radio programme, Caribbean Voices, which aired between 1945-1958 and reached a size and diversity of audience that has not been achieved since.

Recognising independent publishers

The Clarissa Luard Award seeks to recognise the adventurousness, innovative spirit and creativity of independent publishing and, in particular, the ability of small publishers to support and nurture writing talent and contribute to UK and Irish literature.

Publishers are asked to write a proposal explaining how they will benefit from winning this award – this can be interpreted broadly and imaginatively. For example, the award may support the winning publisher to:

  • embark on an original project
  • contribute to the on-going development of its authors
  • support a new writer
  • assist its growth into a new area of business
  • develop knowledge and expertise
  • provide continuity during a period of change

A panel of judges drawn from literature, bookselling and publishing will select the winner.

The Clarissa Luard Award was founded in 2005 by Arts Council England, in memory of Clarissa Luard, a literature officer for the organisation. Until 2015, the awardee was selected by the winner of the David Cohen Prize. From 2017, New Writing North is managing the prize, which now has the focus of supporting independent publishing and with the winner decided by a panel of independent judges.

Publishers whose list mainly consists of literary fiction, poetry, literature in translation, graphic novels, children’s/young adult books and narrative non-fiction are eligible to apply. Narrative non-fiction is defined as fact-based books that have stylistic similarities to fiction, such as memoir and certain kinds of travel writing.

“This award highlights the importance of independent publishing in our society and shines a light on its brilliance and dynamism across the country. The winners Peepal Tree Press are courageous and original in their publishing, bold in their future ambitions and truly deserve this award.”

Sharmaine Lovegrove literary editor at Elle and publisher of Dialogue Books at Little, Brown Book Group

Eligibility and entry criteria

This award is now closed for entry. You can read the entry criteria here.


The winner of the Clarissa Luard Award was announced at an award ceremony in London on 8 November 2017, alongside the announcement of the David Cohen Prize for Literature.

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