The Edge Hill Prize is awarded annually by Edge Hill University for excellence in a published single authored short story collection.
The literary world, particularly fiction, has long been dominated by the novel, with countless awards that exclusively acknowledge authors for their work around this form. Now, in the digital era, literary fiction is under pressure; a faster pace of life and a plethora of distractions threaten to eliminate reading as a form of entertainment. Suddenly, big-name novelists and playwrights are keen to be seen in the company of short stories, with acclaimed writers turning their attention to the short form like never before.
“The great thing about a short story is that it doesn’t have to trawl through someone’s whole life; it can come in glancingly from the side.” – Emma Donoghue
To recognise the acceleration of what was once an overlooked art form, Professor Ailsa Cox (the world’s only Professor of Short Fiction) founded the Edge Hill Short Story Prize in 2006, highlighting the intricate craftsmanship of short story writing. The Prize remains unique as the only annually presented award that recognises excellence in a published, single-authored collection of short stories in the UK and Ireland.
“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.” – Neil Gaiman
Now in its 15th Year, the prize money currently stands at £10,000 and is judged by a selected panel of literary experts. An additional prize of £1,000 is awarded for the ‘Reader’s Choice’, traditionally judged by Edge Hill University BA (Hons) Creative Writing students. An additional category worth £500 acknowledges rising talents on the University’s MA Creative Writing course.
Previous years’ winners have been Colm Tóibín, Claire Keegan, Chris Beckett, Jeremy Dyson, Graham Mort, Sarah Hall, John Burnside, Kirsty Gunn, Jessie Greengrass, Daisy Johnson, Tessa Hadley, David Szalay and last year’s winner Shelley Day for What Are You Like.
The 2021 Edge Hill Prize is open for submissions.
Because of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions entries to this year’s competition should be emailed in PDF or e-book format to Billy Cowan: firstname.lastname@example.org. If things return to normal, three copies of the book may be required. Emails should contain publisher and writer contact details.
The Closing date is 30th April 2021. Emails must arrive by 5 pm on that date.
Billy Cowan, senior lecturer in creative writing at Edge Hill and organiser of the Prize, tells us here what he looks for in a short story and a collection of short stories.
- The 2021 award is open to original single author short story collections first published in English between 1 January 2020 and 15 April 2021.
- Authors must be normally resident in the UK or Ireland.
- Translations are not eligible
- Self-published collections are not eligible.
- Permanent employees of Edge Hill University are excluded from the award.
- Following the closing date for entries, a longlist of collections will be announced, followed by a shortlist. Announcement dates tbc.
- Shortlisted authors will be invited to participate in a special live event in London (permitting) where the first prize of £10,000 plus the £1,000 Reader’s Choice prize will be awarded.
- The judges’ decision is final.
- In the event of unforeseen circumstances, Edge Hill University will be entitled to change the panel of judges and/or arrangements for the prize-giving.
This year’s judges are Dr Kim Wiltshire, Edge Hill CW programme leader, Elise Dillsworth (agent), and last year’s winner author Shelley Day.