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Warwick Prize for Writing 2015: theme and judges announced

Trophy pictureThe Warwick Prize for Writing has announced that its theme for 2015 will be INSTINCT. The judging panel will be chaired by Warwick alumna and author A L Kennedy who will be joined by author and academic Robert Macfarlane, actress and director Fiona Shaw, Warwick alumnus and Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and physician and writer Gavin Francis.

The unique biennial literary prize, run by the University of Warwick, is worth £25,000 and is an international cross-disciplinary award open to any genre or form of writing.

The announcement was made at Cheltenham Literature Festival as part of a special Warwick Prize event with Warwick Prize 2009 winner Naomi Klein, introduced by A L Kennedy. The University of Warwick will mark its 50th anniversary in 2015 and the announcement of the winner in November will form a key part of the celebrations.

Also announced today are changes to the prize eligibility, meaning that for the first time the prize will be open to submissions directly from publishers from around the world. Faculty, students and staff from the University of Warwick and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia will continue to be able to nominate significant pieces of writing of whatever form they choose, including electronic and new media as well as more traditionally recognised forms. Alumni of both institutions will also be able to nominate works.

Publisher submissions will be limited to two titles per imprint which must have been published between 1 May 2013 and 31 March 2015. Submissions may be translations of a work first published in another language, provided that the work is the first English translation and was published for the first time within the stated prize period

The Warwick Prize for Writing was founded in 2009 and is run by the University of Warwick. The nominations process was expanded to include Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013 following the formation of the Monash-Warwick Alliance. Students and staff at both universities will still be invited to make nominations alongside publisher submissions.

In addition to winning the £25,000 monetary prize, the winner will be awarded the opportunity to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick.

Dr Sarah Moss, Co-Director of the Warwick Prize for Writing says:

“The Warwick Prize for Writing is unique in celebrating the best written English in any genre, prose or verse, print or electronic, polemic or simply beautiful. This is an exciting year for us as we invite submissions from publishers all over the world, and our judges will need all their instinct and experience to find the winner.”

Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for her book The Shock Doctrine, an exposé of disaster capitalism. The 2011 prize was awarded to Peter Forbes for Dazzled and Deceived, a cultural history of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare. The prize was awarded to a poet for the first time in 2013, to Alice Oswald for Memorial.

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For further information about The Warwick Prize for Writing, please contact:

Matt Railton at Four Colman Getty on 020 3697 4262

For further information about the University of Warwick, please contact:

Kelly Parkes-Harrison on 024 7615 0868


Notes to Editors

  • The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading research universities. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all the University league tables produced by UK national newspapers, and is ranked 7th among the UK's 100 universities for quality of research
  • The £25,000 Warwick Prize is entirely self-funded by the University of Warwick. The University is able to make such an investment as it generates the majority of its own income
  • The Monash-Warwick Alliance was established in 2011 and offers a new approach to global higher education. It aims to help meet the increasing student, industry and government demand for universities to produce graduates with a global education. To find out more about the alliance visit:

About the judging panel

A.L. Kennedy (Chair)

A.L.Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 15 books: 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Her new book “All The Rage” – a collection of short stories – was published by Jonathan Cape in spring 2014. It will soon appear in the US and Canada. She is also a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV and film.

She writes for a number of UK and overseas publications and has a blog with The Guardian Online.

Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis is a practising GP and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica; the latter was winner of Scottish Book of the Year 2013, and shortlisted for the Costa Prize and Ondaatje Prize. He writes regularly for the Guardian and the London Review of Books and his next book, Adventures in Human Being will be released in May 2015.

Robert Macfarlane

Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind (2003), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012) and Holloway (2013). His books have won numerous prizes, been widely translated, and adapted for television and radio. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In 2013 he chaired the jury for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction; the same year his book The Old Ways was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize.

Fiona Shaw

Fiona Shaw is one of the most recognised actors of her generation, known for both her theatre work (Hedda Gabler, Medea, Mother Courage) and for her film work (Harry Potter series, Three Men and A Little Lady).

In addition to her highly praised acting work Fiona has recently directed Riders to the Sea, Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers and The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera, and The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne, which will also be revived for the Deutsche Oper, Berlin in November 2014.

Tony Wheeler

A trek across Asia on the ‘hippie trail’ of the early 1970s led Tony Wheeler to write the first Lonely Planet guide and the New York Times to describe him as ‘the trailblazing patron saint of the world’s backpackers and adventure travellers.’

Since departing Lonely Planet Tony has been involved with the Planet Wheeler Foundation’s work in South-East Asia and East Africa and Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas. Tony is also a director of Global Heritage Fund which works to protect and develop archaeological sites in the developing world.

His most recent book, Dark Lands, is a follow up to Bad Lands, his journey along George W Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ and assorted other bad countries.

 About the University of Warwick’s 50th anniversary

In less than fifty years since being founded Warwick has become one of the UK’s best universities, consistently at the top of UK league tables, and rapidly climbing the international league tables of world class universities.

A key driver of the Warwick success story so far is our entrepreneurial spirit, our relevance to society and our close links with business and industry. We create new ways of thinking and achieving: making us stand out, and creating an inspiring place to study and undertake research. Warwick has come a long way in a short space of time, and our success is driven by the exceptional talent of our staff, students and alumni, and of course the continuing support and commitment of our partners in the wider community.

The University of Warwick will mark its 50th anniversary in 2015 with a year of exciting events and activities, the centrepiece of which will be the Festival of the Imagination which will take place on campus on 16-17 October 2015. The Festival will showcase the work we do at Warwick through a diverse and lively programme of events, talks, demonstrations and discussions, all focused around the central theme Imagining the Future.

Warwick Prize for Writing 2015

Judging panel

For further information about The Warwick Prize for Writing, please contact: Matt Railton at Four Colman Getty on 020 3697 4262

For further information about the University of Warwick, please contact: Kelly Parkes-Harrison on 024 7615 0868,