The Portico Prize Logo


Tuesday 21 May

  • Simon Savidge to chair panel of judges
  • £10,000 award for literature that ‘best evokes the spirit of the North’
  • New partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Prize launches with ‘Rewriting the North’ series of events

“I am thrilled and delighted to be chairing The Portico Prize this year, as it returns to the literary calendar, bigger and bolder than ever.

Simon Savidge, Chair of judges

The Portico Library in Manchester is proud to announce the return of The Portico Prize for Literature, in partnership with the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The biennial prize is the UK’s only award for outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North. Once described as ‘the Booker of the North’, the Prize is open to literature across the formats of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The Portico Prize was established in 1985 to celebrate the strong regional and literary identity of the North, with the aim of raising awareness of its history and its cultural and literary heritage.

The 2019 prize is judged by a panel of leading figures from the worlds of literature, academia and entertainment, each selected for their association with the North of England. It is chaired by journalist and broadcaster Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads. He is joined by actor Holliday Grainger; writer, broadcaster and performer Kate Fox; Zahid Hussain, author of The Curry Mile; and Jean Sprackland, Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Lynne Allan, Chair of The Portico Library comments:

“The Portico Library is proud to be the home of a prize which for three decades has celebrated the rich literary and culturally diverse heritage of the North of England. A new, dynamic partnership between this iconic library and Manchester Metropolitan University, based in the newly designated UNESCO City of Literature, is ideally placed to nurture and promote creativity in the region and beyond, with the belief that books and education bring life-enhancing opportunities to all.”

James Draper, Manager of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University adds:

“Manchester Metropolitan University plays a significant role at the heart of the city’s cultural eco-system. We have a Writing School containing some of the most prominent authors and poets of their generation and will be delivering a new Poetry Library for the city in 2020. All of this coupled with Manchester’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature has encouraged its cultural and educational organisations to think about new ways of working together to make the most of our city’s rich literary heritage and creative ambitions for the future – so this feels like a great moment for Manchester Metropolitan University to be supporting the Portico Library in relaunching their prize. The Portico Prizes sit alongside Manchester Met’s own Poetry and Fiction prizes for new writing to give our city a suite of literary awards for writers at all stages of their careers – prizes which are strongly identified with Manchester, but that reach out to talent from across the world. We are excited to be working together to create opportunities for writer development, from inspirational workshops for new writers to residencies and commissions for those further on in their career – in Manchester, or at organisations in fellow Cities of Literature around the world.”

Simon Savidge, Chair of judges said:

“I am thrilled and delighted to be chairing The Portico Prize this year, as it returns to the literary calendar, bigger and bolder than ever. The Prize combines three things I love: fantastic books, libraries and the North of England, all of which I am passionate about as an avid book-lover and Northerner. I’m looking forward to getting lost in fiction, non-fiction and poetry from across the North, and to some fantastic discussion about it all with my fellow judges. Get submitting!”

The judges will choose a shortlist of six books from a longlist of up to 15, which will be selected by The Portico Prize’s newly formed Society of Readers and Writers, comprising 15 locally based publishers, authors, librarians, book sellers and critics. The longlist will be announced in September, followed by the shortlist in November. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at The Portico Library in January 2020.

The Portico Prize awards £10,000 to the winner and is now open for submissions. Publishers are invited to submit works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry published between 1 January 2017 and 31 July 2019.

Each of the shortlisted authors will be gifted with honorary membership of The Portico Library in 2020.

The deadline for submissions is 31July 2019.

The Prize was last awarded in 2015. The winners were Benjamin Myers and Richard Benson. Previous winning and shortlisted authors have included Anthony Burgess, Val McDermid, Sarah Hall, A.S. Byatt, Hilary Mantel and the new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.


To mark the return of The Portico Prize, The Portico Library and the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University will host ‘Rewriting the North’, a series of events celebrating writers and writing connecting to the North of England. In each event two leading writers will read from their work and will discuss the role that ‘place’ plays in their creative practice. Portico Prize judge Jean Sprackland and Jacob Polley will discuss Writing, Place and Memory at the first event in the series on Thursday 30 May.

Further information can be found on this link. More to be announced.

For media enquiries and to receive further news about the Prize please contact:

Jane Acton E: T: 07971 661576


To request an interview with representatives from the Prize or the judges, contact Jane Acton

Images available on request

For enquiries about submissions, please contact:


To be eligible for entry, books must evoke the spirit of the North and be works of fiction, non- fiction or poetry published between 1 January 2017 and 31 July 2019.

The Portico Prize was established in 1985. It was last awarded in 2015.

The Portico Library hosts two prizes: The biennial Portico Prize and the annual Portico Sadie Massey Awards for young people in book review and creative writing categories.

For further information about the Portico Prize please visit: portico-prizes


The Portico Library is a 213-year-old independent subscription library and exhibitions space in Manchester city centre. Still housed in its original purpose-built venue on Mosley Street, it is now open free to the public six days a week for an eclectic calendar of exhibitions and events, complementing the unique collection of books, archives and illustrations spanning over 450 years.


The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University is one of the UK’s most successful literary centres, and home to the country’s largest postgraduate English and Creative Writing community. The School has more than 95 published graduates and hosts ambitious writing programmes, vibrant public events, a city-wide children’s book festival and a major international writing competition. Manchester Met will open the city’s first Poetry Library in 2020.


For the first time, The Portico Library is introducing the Society of Readers and Writers, an appointed group of fifteen locally based book lovers and literary enthusiasts who will collectively draw up a longlist for The Portico Prize 2019. Submissions to the Portico Prize will be divided between the Society’s members, which includes publishers, authors, performance poets, librarians, book sellers and critics. Judges are at liberty to co-opt one book to the longlist if this is deemed necessary. Details about the Society members will be released online shortly.

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