In its 40th anniversary year, the Bridport Prize is delighted to announce that the following renowned writers have offered their support as patrons of the competition, in addition to Fay Weldon CBE, who has championed the prize for many years.
Fay Weldon CBE (Honorary Patron)
Novelist, playwright and screenwriter Fay Weldon was brought up in New Zealand and returned to the United Kingdom when she was ten. She read Economics and Psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and worked briefly for the Foreign Office in London, then as a journalist, before beginning a successful career as an advertising copywriter. She gave up her career in advertising, and began to write full-time. Her first novel, The Fat Woman's Joke, was published in 1967. Fay Weldon is a former member of both the Arts Council literary panel and the film and video panel of Greater London Arts. She was Chair of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1983, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews in 1990. She was awarded a CBE in 2001.
Fay Weldon's work includes over twenty novels, five collections of short stories, several children's books, non-fiction books, magazine articles and a number of plays written for television, radio and the stage, including the pilot episode for the television series Upstairs Downstairs. Much of her fiction explores issues surrounding women's relationships with men, children, parents and each other, including the novels Down Among the Women (1971), Female Friends (1975), Praxis (1978) (shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction), The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983), The Cloning of Joanna May (1989), and Wicked Women (1995), which won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. Her 1997 novel Big Women was based on the events surrounding the creation of the feminist publishing house Virago. Other novels include Puffball (1980), The President's Child (1982), The Rules of Life(1987), The Hearts and Lives of Men (1987) and Rhode Island Blues(2000). A collection of short stories, Nothing to Wear and Nowhere to Hide, was published in September 2002. More recent publications include Mantrapped (2004), What Makes Women Happy (2006), a book of non-fiction; The Spa Decameron (2007), Chalcot Crescent (2010), Kehua! (2011) and Habits of the House (Love and Inheritance) (2012).
Fay Weldon lives in London and Dorset. Her memoir, Auto Da Fay, was published in 2002.
“Writing is such a solitary business. It is a relief to be publically acknowledged that Yes, the story works. That is what the Bridport Prize does: it encourages writers to keep thinking up stories that entertain and communicate. I’m delighted to be a part of that encouragement.”
'I was born in Washington, DC but have lived in England all my adult life, and now have dual citizenship (but kept the American accent). I have a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio, and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. I live in London with my English husband and son, and we have a house in Dorset where we spend as much time as we can. Before turning to writing full-time, I was a reference book editor for several years. I have written 7 novels. My second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, has sold 4 million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. The heroine of my most recent novel, The Last Runaway, is from Bridport.'
“The Bridport Prize? Just the sort of leg-up any ambitious new writer ought to celebrate. All entrants benefit because they will have polished and completed a substantial piece of work and had it closely examined and appreciated by some of Britain’s leading novelists or poets. And the prize takers themselves will have partly opened up the door to mainstream publishing. The title “Bridport Winner” is evidence of talent, promise and achievement.”
Jim Crace was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and grew up close to Enfield, North London, where Crace attended Enfield Grammar School. He studied for a degree at the Birmingham College of Commerce (now part of Birmingham City University), where he was enrolled as an external student of the University of London. After securing a BA (Hones) in English Literature in 1968, he travelled overseas with the UK organization Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), working in Sudan. Two years later he returned to the UK, and worked with the BBC, writing educational programmes. From 1976 to 1987 he worked as a freelance journalist.
In 1974 he published his first work of prose fiction, Annie, California Plates in The New Review, and in the next 10 years would write a number of short stories and radio plays. In 1986 Crace published Continent, which won the Whitbread First Novel of the Year Award, the David Higham Prize for Fiction, and the Guardian Fiction prize. His most recent novel, Harvest, was published in the UK in February 2013, and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Crace won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1999.
“I'd be delighted to accept your invitation to become a Patron of the Bridport Prize. I have a long (and happy) association with the competition, and would be glad to advocate for the prize in future.”
Paul Farley was born in Liverpool in 1965 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He has published four books with Picador: The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award and a Forward Prize in 1998); The Ice Age (winner of the 2002 Whitbread Poetry Prize, and a Poetry Book Society Choice); and Tramp in Flames, which was short-listed for the international Griffin Poetry Prize. He has also received an RSL Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, the Cholmondeley Prize and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has also written a book on Terence Davies’s Distant Voices, Still Lives (British Film Institute, 2006) and in 2007 edited a selection of John Clare for Faber’s Poet-to-Poet series. As a broadcaster he has made many arts, features and documentary programmes for radio and television, as well as original radio dramas, and his poems for radio are collected in Field Recordings: BBC Poems 1998-2008 (Donut Press, 2009). His non-fiction book Edgelands (co-authored with Michael Symmons Roberts) was serialised for BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2011. His latest book, The Dark Film, is a Poetry Book Society Choice.
“So long as publishers undersell the short story as they tend to, the value of a prize like the Bridport is incalculable, and not just to writers of short fiction. Now that the marketplace has become so ferociously competitive, emerging novelists need every opportunity that comes their way; I’m sure I’m not the only writer who owes their first publishing contract to being shortlisted for a short story competition…”
Patrick Gale has written fourteen novels, the twelfth of which, Notes from an Exhibition, was the Independent Booksellers’ Association Adult Book of 2008 and a Richard and Judy selection. Rough Music, A Sweet Obscurity and Friendly Fire, are beginning to win him a European following thanks to successful translations into French and Dutch. His thirteenth novel, The Whole Day Through was a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime and a Sainsbury’s Book Club selection. 2009 saw the publication of Gentleman’s Relish, his second collection of short stories. His fourteenth novel, A Perfectly Good Man, was published by Fourth Estate in March 2012 and is the second of his novels to have been picked by the Richard and Judy Book Club. He’s only the fourth author to have been so singled out.
He was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962, raised in Winchester and educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He now lives on his husband’s farm at Land’s End in Cornwall. As well as writing fiction, he regularly teaches creative writing courses. He is a keen musician, playing the ’cello in the Belerion Consort, the Tartini Ensemble and the Penzance Orchestral Society. He is a dog lover, a keen cook and an obsessive gardener
"This is a prize with a generous spirit and real dedication to the form that is not all about 'the same old names' - it goes out of its way to discover and reward new talent. Still the best short story prize in the country."
Maggie Gee was born in Poole, Dorset, and educated at state schools and Somerville College, Oxford where she completed two degrees in English.
After working in publishing as an editor, she took a research job at Wolverhampton Polytechnic where she completed a PhD. Her first published novel was Dying, in Other Words (1981). In 1982 Maggie Gee was selected as one of the original 20 'Best of Young British Novelists' and became Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. Her eighth novel, The White Family (2002), shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, tackles the issue of racism in Britain. In 2006 she published a collection of short stories, The Blue, and in 2005, My Cleaner (2005). In 2011 she published her memoir, My Animal Life, trying to discover the meaning of a short life on this hospitable planet. Her work has been translated into thirteen languages.
Maggie Gee is a Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature. She has been a member of the Society of Authors' Committee of Management and the government Public Lending Right committee, and was from 2004-2008 the first female Chair of Council of the Royal Society of Literature. She is now one of its Vice Presidents. She is Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University and lives in London with her husband, the writer and broadcaster, Nicholas Rankin. In 2012 she was awarded an OBE for services to literature.
“The Bridport Prize has established itself as a leading literary award with a reputation for identifying the best new writing. It is greatly respected, and has helped to establish and cement the reputations of many of our best authors.”
Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London, where she has lived for most of her life. She has published four collections of poetry: Night Photograph (1993), A World Where News Travelled Slowly (1997), Minsk (2003), which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes, and The Casual Perfect (2011). Her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover, was published in 2001 and has appeared in the Netherlands, the United States, Germany and France, where it won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. A second novel, An Irresponsible Age, appeared in 2006, followed by two non-fiction works: The Importance of Music to Girls (2007) and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland (2011). Her next book, A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde, will be published by Faber in February 2014.
Her sound work, Audio Obscura, was commissioned in 2011 from Artangel and Manchester International Festival, and won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Other awards she has received include an Eric Gregory Award (1990), an Arts Council Writers’ Award (1995), Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 1997 (for ‘A World Where News Travelled Slowly’), a Cholmondeley Award and a Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship.
She was the first artist-in-residence at the Science Museum and has also held residencies at the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Society of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, former Chair of the Poetry Society, and in 2013 received a two-year Wellcome Engagement Fellowship.
Her work for music includes libretti for Peter Pan (composer: Richard Ayres, Staatsoper Stuttgart/Komische Oper Berlin/Welsh National Opera 2013) and Ian Wilson’s chamber operas Hamelin (2003) and Minsk (Heilbronn 2013). She has also written song texts including the cycle Slow passage, low prospect (composer: Richard Baker, 2004 Aldeburgh Festival).
She has written and adapted several dramas for radio, including Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day and Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, and has made documentaries on the Arctic, the Baltic, the idea of mountains, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, the darkest place in England, and the solstices and equinoxes. She has also written essays on poetry and science, Bob Dylan and delay, and seventeenth-century wonder.
“The Bridport Prize is a significant event in the poetry calendar. Its consistent encouragement and support are invaluable.”
David Harsent has published ten collections of poetry. The most recent, Night — published in January 2011 — was Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2011 and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Collection), the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Prize. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His work in music theatre has involved collaborations with a number of composers, but most often with Harrison Birtwistle, and has been performed at the Royal Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Proms and on Channel 4 TV.
“In terms of uncovering new talent, the Bridport is one of the most important literary prizes in Britain today.”
Tobias Hill was born in London. He has been nominated by the TLS as one the best young writers in Britain and shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and his collection of stories, Skin, won the PEN/Macmillan Prize for Fiction.
He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2012.
“The Bridport Prize is one of the most cherished in the whole landscape of contemporary poetry - because it has such a strong record of choosing good winners, of making new reputations, and of fostering new talent. I’m honoured to be Patron of the prize, and look forward to seeing who it discovers next year, and the year after, and the year after... .”
Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009. His 2009 collection of poems, The Cinder Path, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. His most recent collection, The Customs House, was published last year. The author of several biographies,Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life won him the Whitbread Prize for Biography in 1993. He has published a novella, The Invention of Dr Cake (2003), a memoir, In the Blood (2006), and a novel, Silver (2012). He is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of The Poetry Archive. He was knighted for services to poetry in 2009.
“The Bridport Prize is a trusted gauge for writing of talent and quality.”
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. Her first book, Free Love and Other Stories (1995), won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award. Her first novel, Like, was published to critical acclaim in 1997. A second collection of short stories, Other Stories and Other Stories, was published in 1999. Her second novel, Hotel World (2001), won the Encore Award, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the inaugural Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. It was also shortlisted for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize for Fiction. In 2004, her novel, The Accidental (2004), was published, and won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award. Girl Meets Boy was published in 2007 and There But For The in 2011.
She has also published a play, The Seer (2006), and her most recent collection of short stories is The First Person and Other Stories (2008). The Book Lover (2008) is a personal anthology of favourite pieces of writing gathered over the course of her life.
Ali Smith is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to journals and newspapers including The Scotsman and the Times Literary Supplement. She lives in Cambridge.
“This is an excellent prize and I was surprised by the high standard of submissions for the short story competition in 2003. The short story is a demanding and petulant form, nearer to poetry than it is to the novel and difficult to master. The Bridport Prize, by showcasing and rewarding good short story writers, is making an important contribution to the literary life of the country.”
Rose Tremain was born in 1943 in London. She was educated at the Sorbonne and is a graduate of the University of East Anglia, where she taught creative writing from 1988-95. Her publications include novels and short-story collections, and she is also the author of a number of radio and television plays. She was awarded an honorary LittD by the University of East Anglia in 2000. Her first novel, Sadler's Birthday, was published in 1976. The Swimming Pool Season (1985) won the Angel Literary Award. Restoration (1989), set during the reign of Charles II, tells the story of Robert Merivel, an anatomy student and Court favourite, who falls in love with the King's mistress. The novel won the Angel Literary Award, the Sunday Express Book of the Year award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. It was made into a film in 1996. Her other novels include Sacred Country (1992), winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) and the prestigious Prix Fémina Etranger (France), about a young girl's crisis of gender and identity; The Way I Found Her (1997), a psychological thriller set in Paris; and Music and Silence (1999), winner of the Whitbread Novel Award. The Colour (2003), set in New Zealand at the time of the West Coast Gold Rush in the 1860s, was shortlisted for the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Rose Tremain has published several collections of short stories, including The Colonel's Daughter and Other Stories (1984), The Garden of the Villa Mollini and Other Stories (1987) and Evangelista's Fan and Other Stories (1994). She was chosen as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists' in a promotion by the literary magazine Granta in 1983, and was a judge for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1988 and in 2000. She reviews and broadcasts regularly for press and radio, and lives in Norfolk and London.
Rose Tremain's later books are a collection of short stories: The Darkness of Wallis Simpson (2005); and a novel, The Road Home (2007), shortlisted for the 2007 Costa Novel Award and winner of the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent novels are Trespass (2010) and Merivel: A Man of His Time (2012), a sequel to Restoration.
Rose Tremain was awarded a CBE in 2007.