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Press / Pencils poised as the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award looks for its sixth winner

  Pencils poised as the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award looks for its sixth winner  
Press Release

November 2006

Pencils poised as the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award looks for its sixth winner

Computer keyboards will be clacking, typewriters chattering, pens and pencils scratching soon itll be time for writers across the North East and Cumbria to enter for the Award that could literally change their lives.

The award, now in its sixth year, was created to enable writers based in the North East and Cumbria to concentrate on their writing full time by providing each years winner with a salary of 60,000 one of the biggest literary prizes available in the UK.

The 60,000 is given over a period of three years meaning that its recipient gets the cash prize in instalments of 20,000 and can give up the day job to concentrate solely on their writing. And the award, unlike most other literary prizes, supports writers work over a substantial period of time rather than recognising one book retrospectively.

Run as a collaboration between the Northern Rock Foundation and New Writing North, the award is unique in the fact that the entrants, who need to have published work before, must have lived in the region for at least the past three years.

Claire Malcolm of New Writing North explains, We are extremely proud that the award seeks only people from the North East and Cumbria. There is a vast amount of literary talent in the area and knowing that we are helping someone realise and achieve their dream of being able to write full-time without any other distractions is extremely gratifying.

There have already been five Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award winners since its inception in 2002, including biographer and poet Anne Stevenson, Newcastle-based poet Tony Harrison, the critically-acclaimed late novelist and poet Julia Darling and poet Gillian Allnutt.

The latest name to be added to this illustrious list was novelist Andrew Crumey, who won the award earlier this year. He said, Winning the award meant I was able to give up a two-day-a-week job to write five days a week.

I was able to write books while I was working at the newspaper but I always had this thing that every week you start on Monday its a difficult day, Tuesday you sort of get going, Wednesday youre rolling and then Thursday you have to go to work it was the end of my week. So, in a sense there was this stop, start feeling.

Entrants for the 2007 award are being asked to send in a sample of a work in progress which can be either 6,000 words of fiction or up to 40 pages of poetry.

Every year we receive more and more entries and we have built up a substantial bank of work over the years and in our sixth year it is good to look back at the great line up of writers who have been supported to develop their work through the award, said Claire.

The award has also attracted several high profile judges from the literary world - author and literary critic Bernardine Evaristo, Whitbread Poetry Award recipient John Burnside and Granta editor Ian Jack. They will decide who will win the award in March 2007.

The panel is chaired by Fiona Ellis, director of the Northern Rock Foundation, who has been involved with the award since 2003. She said, We conceived the award as a way of supporting and promoting writing in our region, and its incredibly rewarding to see how it has grown and come to be regarded with such prestige across the UK. Our big idea was to provide what is essentially a three-year salary to free up writers to think and write, but without any specific targets or products in mind. As an independent foundation we can do this, since we have no need to market ourselves in the process. The winners so far are a testament to the huge talent and future potential of writers in the North, and were sure 2007s winner will be equally impressive.

The deadline for the entries is Friday 15 December and the winner is due to be announced at a special event which will take place in Newcastle next March.

For further details on how to enter for the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award, visit or call 0191 488 8580 for further information.


For further media information please contact Kaye Jemmeson at Cool Blue Brand Communications on 01642 351011 or email

Editors notes

This years press pack includes an audio CD featuring past winners of the award. They discuss how the award has changed their lives along with excerpts of their work. The CD also includes an interview with Fiona Ellis, director of the Northern Rock Foundation, explaining how and why the award started.