Spread the Word announces 2019 London Writers Awards winners

  • Nine-month development programme returns for a second year
  • 30 London-based writers from under-represented backgrounds
  • Masterclasses led by writers Abir Mukherjee, Rowan Coleman and literary agent Felicity Trew
  • Publishing industry steps up support for Spread the Word

“Spread the Word and The London Writers Awards provide agents and publishers with access to a talented and diverse group of writers. I signed a very exciting writer through the programme and can’t wait to share her novel with editors.”

Jenny Savill, Director, Andrew Nurnberg Associates

Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, is delighted to announce the names of the 30 writers who have been selected for the 2019 London Writers Awards.

The London-based writers from communities currently under-represented in UK publishing – writers of colour and working class, LGBTQ+ and disabled writers – will be supported and nurtured through a nine-month development programme in preparation for meeting with agents and publishers and pursuing their writing careers.

The 2019 cohort comes from a diverse range of backgrounds, writing across literary fiction, commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction and YA/children’s. They include Loretta Ramkissoon, an Italian–Mauritian Londoner, whose work was recently published in the Common People anthology; Pam Williams, a 58-year-old teacher and former fashion editor of Grenadian heritage; Michael Mann, a teacher, Alexis Keir, Director of Elfrida Rathbone Camden, a charity working with families and young disabled people, Salma Ibrahim, founder and producer of Literary Natives, an organisation that supports writers of colour, who was presented with a London Book Fair 2019 trailblazer 30 under 30 award, Shane White, a trained criminologist and former probation officer and Elliot F. Sweeney, a community psychiatric nurse. 

The publishing industry has responded positively to Spread the Word’s call-to-action to back the programme and recognise the value of supporting writers from diverse backgrounds. An increased number of agents and publishers have signed up this year to offer critical feedback to the cohort, on a pro-bono basis. They include Eleanor Dryden, Publishing Director at Headline Review; Imogen Taylor, Publishing Director at Tinder Press; Lucy Morris, Catherine Cho and Lisa Babalis at Curtis Brown and Amy Fitzgerald at The Blair Partnership.

The full list of London Writers Award winners is:

Literary fiction:  Adam Zmith, Han Smith, Natasha Brown, S. Niroshini,

Salma Ibrahim, Taranjit Mander, Christina Care, Isha Karki, Liam Konemann, Loretta Ramkissoon, Peter J Coles, Ruth Goldsmith

Commercial fiction: Alexander Marshall, Denise Rawls, Elliot F. Sweeney, Henry Fry,

Mark Mukasa, Pam Williams

Narrative Non-fiction: Ahmed Hassan, Alexis Keir, F Fiaz, Shane White, Su Yin Yap, Zad El Bacha

YA/children’s: Ayesha Braganza, Caroline Gardiner, Davina Tijani, Michael Mann, Nadia Attia, R. X Campbell

Rishi Dastidar, Chair of Spread the Word Trustees, comments: “I’m delighted that the London Writers Awards are returning for a second year, and so a new cohort of diverse and under-represented writers gets the chance to hone and polish their skills so they’re ready when the publishing industry comes calling. Across all genres of fiction and non-fiction we have found writers with different life experiences and backgrounds who are united by one thing – their undisputed talent and ability to tell the stories that we should be hearing. It also again reminds us that the future of storytelling is to be found in London, and I’m delighted that we have the chance to help bring this future closer with the invaluable support of the publishing industry.”

The 30 writers begin their programme of development at the Writers’ Lab on Saturday 21 September. Over the course of nine months, the award recipients will attend fortnightly critical feedback groups to grow and develop their work, participate in nine masterclasses led by writers and industry professionals including authors Abir Mukherjee, Rowan Coleman and agent Felicity Trew, and receive a variety of bespoke development opportunities with editors, agents and the Spread the Word team. The programme will culminate in an industry networking day, where the awardees will be introduced to agents, editors and Spread the Word partners.

In its first year, the London Writers Awards has already led to a number of successes: five of the 2018 cohort have signed up with a literary agent and one of the writers has already secured a two-book deal.  

Spread the Word welcomes the support from the publishing industry. Agents, editors and publishers wishing to get involved in the programme can find out more by contacting Ruth Harrison at Spread the Word via email at: Ruth@spreadtheword.org.uk

For further information contact:

Jane Acton PR – Tel: 07971 661576 / jane@janeactonpr.co.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word, is available for interview
  • Full biographies of the 30 writers who have received a London Writers Award can be found at: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/london-writers-awards
  •  2019 Judges are available for interview
  • The 30 writers were selected from over 190 submissions by a panel of judges that included authors Saeida Rouass, Kate Davies, Abir Mukherjee, Danielle Jawando and Derek Owusu. They were joined by industry judges: the independent agent Elise Dillsworth; Emma Finn (Literary Agent, Conville & Walsh), Katie Brown (Commissioning Editor for Fiction at Trapeze, an Orion Publishing Group imprint), Philippa Milnes-Smith (Managing Director and agent for children’s and YA, The Soho Agency) and Rupert Lancaster (Non-Fiction Publisher, Hodder & Stoughton).
  • The Awards are supported by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with sponsorship from ALCS. Founding partners are: the Independent Publishers Guild, the Society of Authors, Knights Of, Diamond, Kahn and Woods Literary Agency, Burning Eye Books and Bookouture.

About Spread the Word

Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency and a National Portfolio client of Arts Council England (ACE). It is funded to help London’s writers make their mark on the page, the screen and in the world and to foster a literature ecology which reflects the cultural diversity of contemporary Britain. In 2015 it launched, Writing the Future: Black and Asian Writers and Publishers in the UK Market Place, the first large scale report into diversity among publishers and novelists since the ACE funded report In Full Colour in 2004. 


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