Bodley Head/FT prize opens

News - Prizes Friday, 17 May 2019

Seventh annual young essay writer’s prize opens this morning for entries

The prize aims to discover young talent from around the world in long-form essay writing. According to organisers: 'This competition is open to anyone between 18 and 35 years old. Judges will be looking for a dynamic, authoritative and lively essay of no more than 3,500 words in English.

'It can be journalistic, a case study, wide-ranging or minutely focused. In keeping with the ethos of both sponsors, it can address any topic — from finance and current affairs to history and scientific discovery. We aren’t looking for a particular subject; we’re simply looking for writing that brings its subject alive, and turns the reader’s head with its style.'

The winner receives £1,500 and an e-publication with The Bodley Head; publication of their winning essay in the Financial Times and on and a mentoring session with The Bodley Head and Financial Times.

The judges for the 2019 prize are: Simon Schama; Helen Macdonald, author of the multi-award-winning memoir, H is for Hawk; Alec Russell, editor, FT Weekend; Stuart Williams, publishing director, The Bodley Head; and literary agent Georgina Capel.

Previous winners have developed writing careers subsequently. Edward Posnett won in 2014 for his essay ‘Eiderdown’ and his first book, Harvest, will be published by The Bodley Head on 8 August. Hedley Twidle, winner of the first Prize, is now a regular contributor to the FT and 2015’s winner, Laurence Blair, has also been signed up by The Bodley Head to write his first book, which expands on his essay, ‘Dreams of the Sea’.

Williams said: "This is our seventh year of the prize and we couldn’t be more delighted to celebrate the imminent publication of the first book by a winner – Edward Posnett’s Harvest – and to welcome to the judging panel Helen Macdonald, author of the much-loved H is for Hawk. Last year’s shortlist was one of the strongest yet; I can’t wait to read what this annual litmus test reveals of the subjects that are occupying writers’ minds."

Russell said: "Judging the essay prize is one of the highlights of the FT Weekend's year. Last year's entries unveiled a host of exciting new writers. We look forward to reading more."

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