Now run by the National Centre for Writing, the Desmond Elliott Prize was originally established in 2008 and run by the Desmond Elliott Trust. Managed by trustees Dallas Manderson, Christine Berry and Liz Thomson, the prize continued Desmond Elliott’s lifelong ambition “to enrich the careers of new writers” by discovering exciting and important new voices each year.
The prize continues its mission at its new home as part of NCW’s Early Career Awards and bolstered by packs of free resources for early career writers.
‘The Desmond Elliott Prize has a tradition of celebrating the finest in avant-garde writing. Winning meant so much to me personally and to my UK publishers, Galley Beggar Press. It continues to bring the book to more readers and in practical terms, makes a huge difference to my ability to write the next thing.’ – Preti Taneja, author We That Are Young, winner of the 2018 Prize
‘Thanks to the Prize, my career as a novelist has been given a marvellous, confidence-building endorsement.’ – Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill, winner of the 2017 Prize
‘The Desmond Elliott Prize does two wonderful things for debut novelists. First, and most obviously, her work being longlisted gives the novelist validation when she most needs it: at the start of her career. For me, it was proof positive that I was on the right track. I wasn’t a bad storyteller, and I wasn’t fooling myself. But also, in focusing on debut novels, the Prize creates a space for engaging with new work, introducing readers and writers to each other, and celebrating vitality, tenacity and innovation in the form.’ – Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies, winner of the 2016 Prize
‘My career as a novelist has been given a marvellous, confidence-building endorsement.’
‘I discovered that writing a third novel was no easier than writing the first or second. It was still a battle with procrastination and the voice in my head asking whether I was good enough. Two main things got me through this and kept me writing. The first was knowing (partly due to my diaries) that books 1 and 2 were just as slow and difficult to do… And the second was saying to the voice now and again, ‘Well, Our Endless Numbered Days won The Desmond Elliott Prize’. And for a while, it would go quiet and let me get on with it.’ – Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days, winner of the 2015 Prize
‘The Desmond Elliott Prize made all the difference: in the month after her win, sales rose by 400% from the previous month…. The Desmond Elliott Prize was an early indicator of how successful Claire was going to be, and helped her along in her journey. We are still thrilled and grateful three years later.’ – Juliet Annan, Publishing Director of Fig Tree, and publisher of Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days
‘After so many years of rejection, to then find myself winning the best first novel award around was a real turn-up for the books. It not only fixed up my ceiling and all the many things wrong with my house, but it also gave me heart for continuing on with the ‘difficult second novel’. Prizes help you find a readership and, especially when your writing leads you down unusual alleyways of form and language, that introduction to a readership is invaluable.’ – Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, winner of the 2014 Prize
‘The Desmond Elliott Prize is very dear to my heart. It’s a wonderful prize to win, and not only for the very obvious benefit that £10,000 represents when you’ve been writing fiction ‘on spec’ for many years. I’ll be honest and say that the most important benefit of winning The Desmond Elliott for me was probably more to do with my own need for external validation! The Desmond Elliott marks you out as ‘one to watch’ and that is immensely helpful in an industry that’s packed with talent.’ – Ros Barber, author of The Marlowe Papers, winner of the 2013 Prize
‘The Desmond Elliott marks you out as ‘one to watch’ and that is immensely helpful in an industry that’s packed with talent.’
‘Winning the Desmond Elliott Prize was like being thrown a rope at the bottom of a very deep, very dark pit. I can still remember being so sure I would not be awarded the Prize that when my name was spoken it didn’t register for some seconds!’ – Grace McCleen, author of The Land of Decoration, winner of the 2012 Prize
‘Winning the Desmond Elliott Prize gave me both the sanction of approval and the financial ability to spend some time writing the next two books while working part-time, rather than having to relegate writing to an hour or two snatched from the working day. It has made a big difference to me, and I continue to be grateful.’ – Anjali Joseph, author of Saraswati Park, winner of 2011 Prize
‘To hear your name announced as the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize provides the kind of confidence boost usually only acquired via several bottles of that Fortnum’s champagne. Now the judges’ decision is something I can always reach back to if I ever have doubts about my work.’ – Ali Shaw, author of The Girl with Glass Feet, winner of the 2010 Prize
‘The Desmond Elliott Prize helped me to research, and it helped me to get to my desk. I reckon it helped me to write a better book. The great thing about the prize was that it gave me freedom, not only from the bank manager but also the freedom to write what I wanted. At an important and precarious time in my writing life, the Prize supported me without conditions or criteria. It allowed me to concentrate on my craft. That’s a pretty special gift, and one for which I’ll always be grateful.’ – Ed Hogan, author of Blackmoor, winner of the 2009 Prize
‘The Prize gave me a lot of things – publicity, visibility and audibility. But more than that, some kind of confidence, and sense of possibility regarding a tangible writing career.’ – Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted, winner of the 2008 Prize