The Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer's Award

Submissions are open for The Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer's Award 2023! You will be able to apply until 9 September, and win the £20,000 literary prize for a writing project exploring the Americas. Applications can be sent in the form you will find in this page. 


The Eccles Centre and Hay Festival Writer's Award

About the Eccles Centre

The Eccles Centre for American Studies exists to support and promote creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas.

Our goal is to connect users with the British Library's collection of books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers and sound recordings related to the Americas.

We host events, fund research and work with you one-on-one to help uncover the quality and breadth of these collections.

From fashion design to novels, poetry to research papers, we nurture a growing community of people to explore their ideas, and offer a range of awards which enable great work to happen. Whether you’re an independent researcher, creative practitioner, student or academic, if you’re interested in the Americas, we can support your work.

Find out how we can help at

About the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award

This award is a highly prestigious annual literary award of £20,000 and a year-long residency at the British Library, with access to curatorial expertise within the Library’s Americas collections.

The award facilitates and inspires world-class storytelling in the UK and across the Americas, supporting writers in the creative stage of a new fiction or non-fiction project.

What's the prize?

Two winners hold the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award for one year from 1 January each year, and receive:

  • £20,000, in four quarterly grants

  • A residency at the British Library, with unique access to the expertise of the Library’s curatorial staff

  • The chance to appear at future Hay Festival editions with their published work

  • The opportunity to work with the Eccles Centre to develop and facilitate activities and events related to their research at the British Library.

Am I eligible to apply?

The Award is open to submissions of both fiction and non-fiction writing projects written in English, Spanish, Portuguese or any language indigenous to the Americas, which a publisher based in Latin America, Spain or the United Kingdom intends to publish.

  • The work should focus on some part of the Americas – Latin America, North America, Canada and the Caribbean – and needs to make extensive use of the collections of the British Library

  • Writers can be based anywhere in the world and the judges will consider works published in any language indigenous to the Americas, but applications must be in either English, Spanish or Portuguese

  • The winners will be expected to make dedicated use of the Library’s collections over one or more research trips.

The competition 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.

How do I apply?

Submissions will be accepted between 10 May and 9 September 2022. The only way to apply is via application form on the Hay Festival website. You will need to submit:

  • A short summary of your project

  • 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 writer 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

  • A brief biography and any examples of previous published work

  • A headshot and any accompanying credits or captions.

The judges reserve the right to request further information, including full book proposals, at a later stage of the application process.

Any questions? Please email

You’ll be in good company. Previous winners include...



Philip Clark and Javier Montes are the current Writer’s Award holders. Clark won for Sound and the City, a history of the sound of New York City and an investigation into what makes New York sound like New York. Montes won for Trópico de Londres (Tropic of London), telling the story of Latin American artists, writers and intellectual exiles in London during the second half of the 20th century.


Pola Oloixarac and Imaobong Umoren are the current Writer’s Award holders. Oloixarac won for Atlas Literario del Amazonas (Literary Atlas of the Amazon) ­– a work of creative non-fiction revealing the secret history of the Amazon. Umoren won for Empire Without End: A New History of Britain and the Caribbean – an expansive new history of the 400 year relationship between Britain and the Caribbean.
Chloe Aridjis & Daniel Saldaña París


Novelist and writer Chloe Aridjis for her novel Reports from the Land of the Bats and writer and editor Daniel Saldaña París for his novel Principio de mediocridad.
Authors Rachel Hewitt and Sara Taylor


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.

Authors Tessa McWatt and Stuart Evers


Novelist and short story writer Stuart Evers, and the author, librettist and screenwriter Tessa McWatt.
Writer and musician Bob Stanley and author Hannah Kohler


Author Hannah Kohler and writer and musician Bob Stanley. 
Author and editor William Atkins and author Alison MacLeod


Author and editor William Atkins, and author Alison MacLeod. Atkins' The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places was published by Faber in 2018. 
Professor Sarah Churchwell and novelist Benjamin Markovits


Professor Sarah Churchwell and novelist Benjamin Markovits. Markovits' novel A Weekend in New York was published by Faber in 2018. 
Critic and writer Olivia Laing and journalist Erica Wagner


Critic and writer Olivia Laing and journalist Erica Wagner. Laing's book The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone was published by Picador in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. Wagner's Chief Engineer: The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge was published in 2017 by Bloomsbury.
Historian Andrea Wulf and poet and novelist John Burnside


Historian Andrea Wulf and poet and novelist John Burnside. Wulf’s book The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the lost Hero of Science was published by John Murray in October 2015 and won the 2015 Costa Biography Award and 2016 Royal Society Science Book Prize. Burnside's novel Ashland and Vine was published by Jonathan Cape in 2017.
Writers Sheila Rowbotham and Naomi Wood


Writer Sheila Rowbotham and novelist Naomi Wood. During her 2012 residency, Wood researched her novel, Mrs Hemingway, which was published by Picador in 2014. Rowbotham's group biography Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States was published by Verso in 2016.


Portraits of the 2012–2018 award winners by Eccles Photography Fellow Ander McIntyre.

About the Eccles Centre

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.

About Hay Festival

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

Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library logo