Applications now open for the NCW Emerging Translator Mentorships 2019

The National Centre for Writing is seeking applications from translators into English for the 2019 NCW Emerging Translator Mentorship programme.

This year’s confirmed languages are:

  • French* (mentored by Sarah Ardizzone)
  • Korean (mentored by Deborah Smith)
  • Norwegian (mentored by Kari Dickson)
  • Polish (mentored by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)
  • Russian (mentored by Robert Chandler)
  • Italian, with a focus on Swiss Italian (mentored by Howard Curtis)
  • Tilted Axis Mentorship for a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic literary translator based in either the UK, Republic of Ireland or mainland Europe, working from any language into English (mentored by Jeremy Tiang)
  • Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic literary translator of children’s literature from any language into English, based in the UK (mentored by Daniel Hahn)

About the programme

Founded by Daniel Hahn in 2010, the Emerging Translator Mentorship programme aims to develop successive new cohorts of literary translators into English, particularly for languages whose literature is currently under-represented in English translation.

The scheme matches up experienced translators with emerging translators for a six-month period during which they work together on practical translation projects, developing their craft through working on a chosen text or texts. The mentor acts as an adviser to the mentee on aspects of life as a professional translator, such as time management, meeting deadlines, managing finances and understanding contracts, and as an advocate for their mentee with publishers in search of literary translators.

The evidence to date suggests that participation in the scheme represents, in itself, a significant professional development for mentees, with publishers seeing the mentoring cohort as a reliable source of high quality emerging translators.


What you will receive

Mentees receive a £500 bursary and reasonable travel expenses associated with the mentorship, which varies according to the relative geographical locations of the mentoring pair. The mentorship will include a residential weekend as well as access to various (UK) industry events such as International Translation Day and London Book Fair. Samples of mentees’ work will also be published in an anthology.

National Centre for Writing will facilitate an initial planning meeting between successful applicants and their mentors to agree on the scope of their project and how they will work together. The mentoring period lasts for six months, from October 2019 to March 2020, during which the mentoring pair will meet at least four times, either in person, by Skype or by telephone as appropriate. In between meetings, they will exchange work and comments via email.


Who can apply?

The programme is open to emerging translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full-length work of translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree programme. Though English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the UK, unless stated otherwise.


How to apply

Applications should be emailed to and queries addressed FAO Sarah Bower at the same address.

The deadline for receipt of entries is 11.59pm EST, Monday 2 September 2019.

Successful applicants will be informed by the Thursday 12 September and will be announced publicly at International Translation Day, taking place at Free Word, London on Monday 30 September.

Your application should include:

  • A covering letter stating why you believe you would benefit from a mentorship
  • Your CV
  • A one-page sample project proposal
  • A sample translation of up to 2,000 words of prose or up to 100 lines poetry or dramatic text along with the corresponding source text

Supported by Arts Council England, The Harvill Secker Young Translators Prize, Institut Francais, The Literary Translation Institute of Korea , The Polish Cultural Institute, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, NORLA, The Russian Institute for Literary Translation, The Italian Cultural Institute, Pro-Helvetia, Visible Communities and Tilted Axis.

Arts Council England logo      Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize

Institut Francais logo      Literature Translation Institute of Korea   Polish Cultural Institute London

Royal Norwegian Embassy   NORLA logo   The Russian Institute for Literary Translation logo

The Italian Cultural Institute   Pro-Helvetia   Tilted Axis

*French is offered in partnership with the Harvill Secker Young Translators Prize. Please check for specific entry requirements visit their website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does ‘Emerging’ mean?

Emerging refers to a translator who has published no more than one full-length work of literary translation. Applicants with commercial translation experience are encouraged.

What should I include in my CV/Covering Letter?

Your CV should detail any previous translation experience as well as any other relevant experience. Your covering letter should explain how you think you’ll benefit from the programme.

What should I include in my sample proposal?

Your proposal should include a short synopsis of a text, a short biography of the original author, and answer the following questions: why would this text benefit from translation and what is the appeal of the text in the English Language market. We would advise against choosing a text which has already been translated into the English Language for the purposes of this sample proposal.

Should my sample translation be from the text I would like to work on during my mentorship?

Your sample translation does not have to be from the same text you are proposing to translate but it may help your mentor to assess your proposal, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the text you are proposing to work with. The piece you eventually work on will be decided between you and your mentor.

Do I have to be based in the UK to apply?

No – with the exception of the Tilted Axis BAME and children’s literature BAME mentorships, you do not have to be a UK resident to apply.

Why do you give priority to applicants who are not in full-time education?

The mentorship seeks to support those writers who do not currently have a supportive network of experienced translators around them.

Will I have to meet my mentor face to face for our sessions?

No – you may not live in the same country or continent as your mentor and sessions can occur exclusively via skype, email, or telephone.

What happens if my mentor doesn’t translate from the same language as me?

The mentorship is designed to help with the challenges of translation as a whole – identifying universal translation issues beyond individual languages. The scheme is designed to help you better understand literary translation and the industry at large.