RSL Literature Matters Awards

The RSL’s new Literature Matters Awards aim to reward and enable literary excellence and innovation.  Each year, after an open call for proposals, the Awards will be given to individual writers or other literary creators, recognising their past achievements and providing them with financial support to undertake a proposed new piece of writing or literary project.

Launched as part of the Royal Society of Literatures new ‘Literature Matters’ programme, priority will be given to proposals which (a) will help connect with audiences or topics outside the usual reach of literature, and/or (b) will help generate public discussion about why literature matters.

The proposals will be judged and the award-winners selected by a panel of writers who are Fellows of the RSL. For 2018, the panel is: Jonathan Keates (Chair), Imtiaz Dharker and Gillian Slovo.


Eligibility and Guidelines


The Award is open for submissions of proposals for writing, literary events or projects. An RSL Literature Matters Award must result in new, original writing or other literary activity of an excellent artistic standard, which will reach a substantial readership or audience.

The judges may give as many awards of whatever amounts they feel appropriate within the available budget. In 2018, the RSL expect the available budget to be around £20,000, and we envisage making no more than six awards.

The amount of funding depends on the investment income generated by the RSL’s new Literature Matters Awards endowment. The endowment is an amalgamation of a number of historic bequests made to the Society for prizes or grants whose remits are now obsolete or which have not in fact been awarded for many years. In setting up the endowment, the RSL’s governing Council aims to honour the intentions of the original benefactors by making the funds more relevant to and effective in a contemporary literary context. Each year some Literature Matters Awards will be named in recognition of individual benefactors, including Winifred Holtby, William Heinemann and Brookleaze Cottage. 

To be eligible to apply, you must be:

  • resident in the UK
  • a writer or other literary creator with a successful track record to indicate the proposal is likely to succeed (we also accept proposals from small groups or collaborations of writers, but not from organisations)
  • in need of the funding to carry out the proposal.


Submission Criteria

The RSL are open to submissions of proposals for writing, literary events or projects that will take place by March 2019.

It may be

  • a piece or pieces of writing
  • a publication
  • an event
  • a production

on any subject and in any form, including (but not limited to) prose fiction, short stories, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, graphic fiction, biography or travel-writing.

The money may be used to fund all or part of the activity, but may not be used for writing or any other activity which has already been completed.

The RSL are especially interested in and will give priority to writing or projects which:

  • engage with topics or audiences outside the usual reach of literature, e.g. collaborations with other disciplines, or projects aimed at readers or audiences rarely engaged in literature;
  • and/or which generate public discussion about the difference that literature makes to people’s lives and to the world, e.g. through media coverage, online forums or interactive events.



Deadline: Monday 4 December, successful applicants will be notified by February 2018.


For more information and to apply please go to the RSL Literature Matters website

Published on:
22 Nov 2017


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