Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019 unveils final judging line-up

News - Prizes Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Judges include Katy Brand, Susan Calman, Jenny Éclair, Kathy Lette, Shazia Mirza, Marian Keyes and Allison Pearson

The final judging line-up has been announced for the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019. Leading comedy writers Katy Brand, Susan Calman, Jenny Éclair, Kathy Lette and Shazia Mirza join the bestselling founder judges Marian Keyes and Allison Pearson.

Launched at the Edinburgh Fringe in August last year, the CWIP Prize was created by Helen Lederer in response to the lack of support and exposure for female comedy writing and as a way of discovering and nurturing new talent.

Lederer said: "I seem to have been banging on about CWIP for years (well I have actually – OK four) but had no idea what it meant to actually make a prize happen from nothing. I'm not exactly a lady who lunches – more a lady who begs people to do stuff for CWIP – all the time – but it's paid off. Without the amazing calibre of quality judges and team members this would have remained a grumpy dream!"

Joining the unpublished CWIP Prize judging panel is: Perrier Comedy Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Éclair; fellow writer, broadcaster and stand-up comic, Susan Calman; Dr Jennifer Young, head of writing and journalism at Falmouth University; Fanny Blake, who was senior fiction editor at Penguin for fourteen years, and is a former books editor at Woman & Home, as well as being the author of eight novels; Lara Marshall, book blogger and librarian with Hillingdon Libraries; and Karen McPherson who worked for The Reading Agency on BBC Radio 2's Book Club and on a range of literary prizes including the Booker and the Women's Prize. They join Martha Ashby, editorial director at HarperFiction.

Shazia Mira said: "There is a need and a duty for women's voices to heard, especially witty ones since there has been an ongoing protest against women who pursue careers in comedy. We are forever being told we are not funny, so the only way to eliminate this negative and false stereotype is to put women's work and voices out there."

Marian Keyes said: "A myth abounds that women aren't funny. Naturally it wasn't women who came up with this nonsense: women know how hilarious other women are. Nevertheless, female comic writers don't get anything like the recognition that male comic writers do. (In the 18 years since the inauguration of the Bollinger Wodehouse prize for comic fiction, women have won two and a half times. Just over 7%.). Whatever the reason, I want female comic writers to be given the recognition they so richly deserve and which is long overdue. I'm delighted to be a judge for this prize."

Martha Ashby said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be involved with the Comedy Women in Print prize – I’m a huge fan of a) women, b) women who write and c) women who write funny books, and this prize ticks all those boxes so perfectly! I'm very much looking forward to reading all the entries and I can't wait to ferret out some brilliant new talent."

The closing date for submissions from aspiring and published comic women novelists is 28 February 2019. The winning author in the published category will be offered a £2000 cash award. Alongside this the CWIP Prize will offer the winner of the unpublished category a publishing contract and £5000 advance with HarperFiction. The unpublished runner-up will receive a free place on the MA course in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Comedy Women in Print Prize winners will be announced at an award ceremony at the Conduit Club on Wednesday 10 July. For more details see

Pictured: Susan Calman

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