Hay Festival partners 2020 Writer’s Award

(Photo - 2019 award winners Sara Taylor and Rachel Hewitt) 

The Eccles Centre at the British Library will partner Hay Festival for its prestigious annual Writer’s Award, a prize of £20,000 for a current writing project exploring the Americas (North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean).

The Writer’s Award was founded by the Eccles Centre in 2012 as part of its aim to increase awareness and inspire creative new ways of using the British Library’s American collections – one of the world’s foremost and the largest outside of the region.

Open to writers of both fiction and non-fiction, it is the only literary prize in the UK to support novelists in the creative stages of the writing process through a substantial £20,000 prize and a year-long residency, which includes privileged access to the British Library’s American collections and curatorial expertise.

A number of critically acclaimed books have been published with the support of the Writer’s Award since it began, including Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf, and The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places by William Atkins. The current award holders are Sara Taylor and Rachel Hewitt.

This exciting new partnership builds on Hay Festival’s growing presence in Latin America and the increasingly international reach of the Writer’s Award which, for the first time, will welcome submissions for writing projects in Spanish and languages indigenous to the Americas to mark the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The Eccles Centre and Hay Festival will also collaborate to launch a dynamic new event series, taking place across Hay Festival’s global programmes spanning Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and Wales. The Eccles Centre Series will see awardees join forces with celebrated writers and thinkers to explore themes central to the British Library’s Americas collections through bold and original perspectives, championing new ideas to audiences in the UK and Latin America.

The first of this new series will take place at Hay Festival Cartagena (31 January-3 February 2019) where 2015 award winner Sarah Churchwell will discuss her book Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream.

Submissions for the 2020 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award will open in Spring 2019.

Dr Phil Hatfield, Head of the Eccles Centre, commented: "The Writer’s Award has attracted some of the most promising new writing talent of recent years. At the Eccles Centre we are committed to finding new ways to help this growing community engage with audiences in the very regions that inspire such a tangible sense of place in their creative projects. We are delighted to be working with Hay Festival in what is a natural fit in many ways; our new collaboration will amplify the reach of works inspired by the British Library’s Americas collections and champion new ideas to audiences worldwide."

Cristina Fuentes la Roche, International Director at Hay Festival, commented: "We're delighted to partner the Eccles Centre in taking the Writer's Award and its winners to new audiences around the world, particularly across the Americas. Writers offer us the unique power to imagine the world from someone else’s point of view and we're pleased to offer new platforms and routes of storytelling across borders, helping bridge the global north and south with words."

Find out more about the award here.