Our Authors’ Awards celebrate writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry at all stages of their careers. We want to recognise and reward as many authors as possible for the contribution they make to literature. We believe to do so we need to change some of the eligibility criteria regarding citizenship and birthplace.
We act as trustees for three charitable funds to support young writers: the Somerset Maugham Awards for published works of fiction; the Eric Gregory Awards for poetry; and the Betty Trask Prize and Awards for first novels.
At present, eligibility for the Somerset Maugham and Eric Gregory Awards is restricted to writers who are British subjects by birth and resident in the UK or Northern Ireland. The Betty Trask Prize is limited to Commonwealth citizens.
We feel that these criteria, written over 30 years ago, are no longer appropriate. Our awards and prizes should reflect and celebrate the diverse society that we live in today, and encourage writers from all backgrounds.
Our aim is not to turn these longstanding prizes into international awards. It is to ensure that writers working in Britain (or the Commonwealth in the case of the Betty Trask award) are not excluded simply by accident of birth.
We are applying to the Charity Commission to affect changes to the entry criteria that will make our awards more accessible. To do this we need your help.
For each of these awards we want to change the criteria to say that a ‘candidate for an award must be resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or in the Commonwealth in the case of the Betty Trask award) for three years prior to the date of submission for the award, and writing in English’, removing the need for the applicant to be also be a British subject by birth (or a commonwealth citizen in the case of the Betty Trask award).
We welcome any thoughts you may have about these proposals, and encourage you to read the full consultation in detail.
We invite you to comment on the proposed terms for these three funds by commenting below or emailing our Chief Executive Nicola Solomon – firstname.lastname@example.org.
It would be helpful to know your opinions on the questions below but your comments need not be limited to those questions:
1) Do you agree that nationality is an appropriate factor for an applicant to qualify for an award?
2) Do you agree that three years’ residence in Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or the Commonwealth in the case of the Betty Trask award) is an appropriate factor for an applicant to qualify?
3) Do you agree that the awards should be restricted to applicants writing in English?
4) Do you have any other comments on the proposed application for a Charity Commission Scheme to vary the existing trusts?
The consultation will run until the end of November.