Excitement is growing over the third Edge Hill Prize for the Short Story.

The award will enjoy a double celebration in 2010 as its host, Edge Hill University, also celebrates its 125th anniversary.

The prestigious Prize recognises excellence in a published single author short story collection. It is unique in the UK as it is the only such award for a published short story collection from a British/Irish author.

The 2009 winner was cult science fiction writer Chris Beckett – a surprise for many due to the genre’s specialist market and because he is published by a small press. He won £5,000 and a specially commissioned painting by Liverpool artist, Pete Clarke.

The judges chose his book The Turing Test, published by Elastic Press, which beat off competition from collections by Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright, Whitbread winner Ali Smith and other acclaimed writers. Since winning the prestigious award, Chris has secured a two book deal with Corvus, an imprint of Grove Atlantic.

Other previous winners and shortlisted authors include Neil Gaiman, Rob Shearman, Colm Toibin and Claire Keegan.

Sponsored by Blackwell, the 2010 prize will have three categories:

  • The main literary award of £5,000, plus an original piece of artwork specially commissioned by Blackwell. A panel of judges will choose the winner from a shortlist of five collections.
  • The £1,000 Readers’ Prize will be chosen by a group of A-level English students. They will announce their winner from the same shortlist as the main panel.
  • A new prize will also reward one of the stars of the University’s MA Creative Writing course. £500 will be awarded to the most outstanding short story submission by a current student – and they will also have the chance to see their story printed using Blackwell’s cutting-edge Espresso Book Machine publishing technology which has been heralded as the biggest change for the literary world since the invention of the printing press. The chance for one winner to see their work printed in this way is a major coup, particularly for an unpublished author.