72 writers share £186,000 of Autumn grants for work in progress

9 December 2019

Our final 2019 round of grants will support the work of a range of exciting authors, from poetry and fiction to biography and non-fiction.

Some of our December 2019 grant recipients - pictured from left: Karin Altenberg, Graham Caveney, Catrina Davies, Nikita Lalwani and Saima Mir

After a record round of applications this year, we are delighted to support exciting new work from established and emerging authors with these 72 grants worth £186,000 in total from the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust.

Each application is different and there is no single use for the funds, which are designed to ensure that financial realities don’t get in the way of writers completing their work. Typically, the grants are used to assist with research costs or to buy writers the time they need to focus on their work.

No matter how our support is used, it’s a privilege to be a part of these writing journeys.

Meet some of our recipients

Karin Altenberg

Starting a new book is difficult, and keeping my nerve doesn’t get any easier. My previous novels have been set in Scotland, England and America – places I’ve lived in or visited for extended periods – but this will be my first attempt to write about the country where I grew up, the place Michael Meyer understood so well. I have been in Britain for twenty years, but now feel that my belonging here has been challenged. Looking back at Sweden from the vantage point of an increasingly insular UK is a way for me to deal with this liminality, of always being an outsider. I’m enormously grateful for this award, which alleviates my current financial anxiety, offers fresh courage and lets me believe that I’m still welcome to write and live in Britain.

Graham Caveney

My current project is an autobiographical book reflecting on my experience of agoraphobia - a baffling, debilitating and misunderstood condition, and one I have suffered from for over thirty years. The book is part meditation, part analysis and part historical overview of the agoraphobic as a specific category of person.

I interweave my own psychiatric life history with those of other sufferers - Emily Dickinson, Edvard Munch, Shirley Jackson - and aim to open a discussion about region, class, gender and social mobility.

The agoraphobe emerged at a time in the late 19th Century - a product of urban development, the flip-side to the flaneur. Its history is intimately bound up with Modernity's threatening promise. His/her story is slippery, intimate, elusive, and I am aiming to find a voice to do it justice.

The SOA grant will buy me not just some much-needed books but will also allow me to travel to Berlin for a few days - the city where agoraphobia was first named (by Carl Otto Von Westphal). It will provide a dedicated period in which to complete a project which has been ongoing for the last three years. I cannot thank them enough. 

Catrina Davies

I am part-way through a project that will chronicle the life of a friend who suffered an accident that has put him in a wheelchair for life. His story is a fascinating one, from an Exmoor childhood dating back to a time when farmers still used heavy horses, through forestry, surfing and numerous near-death-experiences, to a present that requires an entirely new understanding of what makes a life worth living. Having spent years recording my friend's stories, so that I can tell them in his voice, I am desperate to turn this material into the great and timely book I know it can be. I am hugely grateful to the Society of Authors, and specifically the John Brooks award, for buying me the time and space to give it my very best shot.

Nikita Lalwani

Fiction-writing requires a certain mobility: there is often a dance between the story that you want to tell, and the one that is making itself known to you as the words go down. This Authors Foundation grant will allow me the space to stop, wait, listen and invent - a magical loosening of constraints. I couldn't be more grateful, and am pretty sure that the novel I am writing will move in unexpected directions, as a result of this generosity.

Saima Mir

I'm thrilled at the news. This award will help me dedicate uninterrupted time to complete the edit on my novel, The Khan.  I'm constantly juggling freelance work, childcare and writing. Thanks to the SoA Authors’ Foundation I can relax a little and   concentrate fully on the work at hand.

Applications for grants in 2020

We accept applications to The Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust throughout the year, with application deadlines ending on 1 April and 1 September (with funds awarded in August and December respectively).

Click here to find out more about our criteria and how to apply.