New awards, new judges, and a deadline reminder for Northern Writers’ Awards entrants

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As the Northern Writers’ Awards enters its 25th anniversary year, there are more opportunities than ever for writers based in the North of England.

Founded and produced by New Writing North, the Northern Writers’ Awards are the largest and longest-running writer development programme of their kind in England, with a reputation for identifying some of the country’s best unpublished writing.

By supporting writers at an earlier stage than most literary awards – usually before an agent or publisher is involved – the Northern Writers’ Awards offer crucial support for writers at a pivotal stage of their careers, as well as providing a pipeline of new talent to the publishing and broadcast industries.


Don’t miss the deadline for Submission Window 2

The flagship awards, supported by the Northern Writers’ Awards’ lead supporter, Northumbria University will close for entry on 12 February at 5pm. This includes awards up to £5000 for fiction, poetry and memoir, as well as those aimed at young people under 18. There is also an award exclusively for students and alumni of Northumbria University.


New awards open in Submission Window 3

On the same date, Monday 12 February, a fresh round of Northern Writers’ Awards will open until 28 March at 12 noon. Three awards will be open during this period, which each offer unique prizes as well as access to access to the Northern Writers’ Awards Network.


The Tempest Prize

Founded by poet, novelist, and former Northern Writers’ Awards winner Andrew McMillan with New Writing North, the Tempest Prize is opening for the first time in 2024. The Tempest Prize will reward one LGBTQ+ writer based in the North of England £1000 and mentoring with Andrew. This award is open to poetry, fiction and narrative non-fiction by new, emerging and established writers.

Andrew won a Northern Writers’ Award for his debut collection, physical, which went on to win the Guardian First Book Award. His debut novel Pity is out this month with Canongate. The Tempest Prize will be judged by Andrew alongside the poet, performer, mentor and novelist Patience Agbabi.

On founding the prize, Andrew McMillan said:

“I was raised to believe that literature isn’t elsewhere, its right where you are; it’s your town, your street, your voice, your accent, your life. So often, growing up as a young man in Barnsley, slowly realising I was gay, the representations of LGBTQ+ life in literature and media felt beautiful but distant. I was very fortunate, to have access to books, and to a world that brought it closer. Over the last decade there’s been a great flourishing of queer literature in the UK, which I’ve benefitted from, and loved being in conversation with. I want, in a small way, to help that continue and develop. The aim of the Tempest Prize is to put my money where my mouth is, pay forward the good fortune and privilege I’ve enjoyed, and shine a light on queer stories wherever they might come from in the North of England.”

Patience Agbabi said: “I’m honoured to be working alongside Andrew McMillan to judge this brilliant brand new prize for queer writing. I look forward to reading a range of entries across all literary genres and love that the winner will be mentored by him.”


The Finchale Award for Short Fiction

Founded by the writer Benjamin Myers, the Finchale Award for Short Fiction is for a single unpublished short story of up to 1500 words by a writer based in the North of England. The winner will receive £1000.

Benjamin Myers is the author of  Cuddy, The Gallows Pole, The Offing, The Perfect Golden Circle, Male Tears and many more. He received a Northern Writers’ Award in 2013 for the manuscript of his novel-in-progress, Beastings, and founded the Finchale Award for Short Fiction with New Writing North in 2021. The award has been won by writers Jack Joslin (2022) and Sarah Davy (2023).

This year’s judges of the Finchale Award for Short Fiction are Rob Doyle and Fiona Mozley. Rob Doyle is the author of four books: Threshold, Autobibliography, This Is the Ritual, and Here Are the Young Men. Fiona Mozley is the author of two novels: Elmet and Hot Stew.

Rob Doyle said: “I’m delighted to be judging this year’s Finchale Award and to be involved with the Northern Writers’ Awards. Above all, I’m keen to get an insight into what people are thinking, worrying, wondering, dreaming, and writing about — I hope to be dazzled, shaken, entertained, and inspired.”

Fiona Mozley said: “I’m supremely excited to sink my teeth into the submissions for this year’s Finchale Award, and am hoping to find a host of talented new voices.”


The Sid Chaplin Award

The Sid Chaplin Award was founded in 2018 by the family of Sid Chaplin (1916-1986), author of novels including The Day of the Sardine and The Watchers and the Watched, along with the North Literary Agency, Newcastle University and New Writing North. The award is for writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction who come from a working-class background. The winning writer will receive a bursary of £2000; a manuscript appraisal from The Literary Consultancy; advisory sessions from the writer Michael Chaplin; and an introduction to the North Agency. Previous winners and highly commended entrants of the Sid Chaplin Award are: Lyndsey Skinner and Christopher Fallow (2019); Jodie Russian-Red and Sarah Tarbitt (2020); Gary Evans and Greg Forrester (2021); Andrew Ballantyne and Ruskin Smith (2022); and Dr Louise Marie Powell and Candi Martin (2023).

The Sid Chaplin Award 2024 will be judged by Eve Verde, the author of novels Lives Like Mine and In Bloom, alongside representatives of the Chaplin family, Newcastle University and the North Literary Agency.

Eve Verde said: “It is always a privilege to read the work of emerging talent, and as a working-class writer who knows the importance of prizes and opportunities such as this, I am most honoured to be judging this year’s Sid Chaplin Award 2024. I very much look forward to getting started.”


The Northern Writers’ Awards are produced by New Writing North with support from Northumbria University and Arts Council England. The full suite of awards is made possible by a range of vital partnerships with Arvon, Bonafide Films, Channel 4, Hachette Children’s Group, Lime Pictures, The Literary Consultancy, Newcastle University, The North Literary Agency, Oneworld Publications, The Society of Authors, University of York, the Word Factory as well as generous donations from individual donors including the Chaplin family, the Hale family, Andrew McMillan, and Benjamin Myers.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Newcastle in summer 2024.

Read more about the Northern Writers’ Awards judges

Enter for the Northern Writers’ Awards via the New Writing North website