The Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer's Award is a highly prestigious annual award of £20,000 for a current writing project exploring the Americas. Submissions for the 2021 award are closed now. Two winners will hold the Writer’s Award for one year from 1 January 2021
The Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer's Award is a highly prestigious annual award of £20,000 for a current writing project exploring the Americas.
Submissions for the 2021 award are now open. Two winners will hold the Writer’s Award for one year from 1 January 2021, and will receive:
£20,000, in four quarterly grants
Unique access to the expertise of the British Library’s curatorial staff
Membership of the British Library
The chance to appear at future Hay Festival editions with their published work
The winners will also have the opportunity to work with the Eccles Centre to develop and facilitate activities and events related to their research.
The Writer’s Award was founded by the Eccles Centre in 2012 as part of its aim to increase awareness and use of the British Library’s American collections (North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean) – one of the world’s foremost and the largest outside of the region.
Open to writers of both fiction and non-fiction, it is the only literary prize in the UK to support novelists in the creative stages of the writing process through a substantial prize and a year-long residency, which includes privileged access to the British Library’s Americas collections and curatorial expertise. A number of critically acclaimed books have been published with the support of the Writer’s Award since it began, including Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone and The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf.
The Writer’s Award is celebrated globally through a dynamic event series profiling winners at Hay Festival editions in Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Wales as awardees join forces with celebrated writers and thinkers to explore themes central to the British Library’s Americas collections, championing new perspectives to audiences in the UK and Latin America.
Applications are invited from fiction and non-fiction authors undertaking a book-length project, which a publisher based in Latin America (except Brazil), Spain or the United Kingdom intends to publish. The work should focus on some part of the Americas and needs to make extensive use of the collections of the British Library; it is expected that Awardees will make dedicated use of the Library’s collections over one or more research trips lasting weeks or months. The judges will consider works published in any language of the Americas (indigenous languages, English or Spanish) but applications must be in either English or Spanish.
The Award is open to any author but please note that neither the Eccles Centre nor Hay Festival will arrange visas, travel or accommodation for Award holders. Awardees will also be responsible for any payments or charges incurred as a result of international bank transfers.
Membership of the British Library does not automatically include the Reader Pass required to access the Library’s Reading Rooms. Awardees will be responsible for their own application for a Reader Pass, full details of the process can be found below as can further details about the Membership:
Applications are closed now.
Applications – submitted in either English or Spanish – should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and will need to include:
a short summary of the book being written;
a brief CV;
an overview of the nature and extent of anticipated use of the British Library’s collections relating to the Americas;
an outline of how the project and the author will promote awareness and use of the British Library’s Americas collections;
an outline of ways the project and its outputs will contribute to the Hay Festival programme;
evidence of an established publisher’s intention to publish the finished book;
applications should total no more than 1,500 words and applicants are encouraged to provide an executive summary highlighting the key details in their application.
The judges reserve the right to request further information, including full book proposals, at a later stage of the application process.
For more information about the Eccles Centre or to explore the British Library’s collection visit bl.uk/eccles-centre
For questions relating to the award email: email@example.com
Submissions close on 16 August, at 12:00 BST. A shortlist of applications will be announced on 5 October with shortlisted writers each awarded £2,000 (which will be included as part of the total winners’ prize fund). Winners will be announced at a ceremony in the British Library on 19 November.
Writer Rachel Hewitt and novelist Sara Taylor. Hewitt is a Lecturer in Creative Writing, and author, Sara Taylor is a novelist as well as co-director and editor of creative-critical publisher Seam Editions.
Portrait of the award winners by Clara Molden.
Portraits of the 2012–2018 award winners by Eccles Photography Fellow Ander McIntyre.
The Eccles Centre for American Studies was founded in 1991 to increase awareness and use of the British Library's extensive collections of books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers and sound recordings related to the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
Housed within the British Library, the Centre works in collaboration with the Library's Americas curatorial team and external partners interested in the promotion of North American studies in the UK. The Centre runs a diverse events programme, funds research, offers training in the North American collections, and produces publications and digital exhibitions designed to introduce the quality and breadth of the collections.
Hay Festival is a not-for-profit organisation that brings readers and writers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events around the world. The festivals inspire, examine and entertain, inviting participants to imagine the world as it is and as it might be.
Editions over the year ahead include events in Colombia (Cartagena, Medellín and Jericó), Mexico (Querétaro), USA (Dallas), Spain (Segovia), Chile (Santiago), Peru (Ayacucho and Arequipa) and in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. Meanwhile the festival’s Bogotá 39 project continues to spotlight Latin America’s new voices. Find out more at hayfestival.org/festivals.