Chosen by Authors for Authors: winners of 2019 Society of Authors’ Awards revealed

A host of outstanding writers across genres were celebrated at Southwark Cathedral this month as the winners of this year’s ALCS-sponsored Society of Authors’ (SoA) Awards were announced.

Presented by poet Jackie Kay MBE, with an introduction by the President of the SoA Philip Pullman, the nine Society of Authors’ Awards were presented to 32 writers, which included some debut names alongside established award-winning writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Together they shared a prize fund of £100,000.

Speaking about the Awards, Jackie Kay said: I’m enormously proud and gratified to have been granted this most lovely opportunity of presenting writers with the Society of Authors’ Awards. These awards, I know from personal experience, are potentially life-changing. They bring writers in from the cold. They give writers a huge boost and validation. They tell them that their trials and tribulations have been worth it after all, after the long haul. Writing is a confidence game, and often writers’ confidence is shot to pieces. An award like this can put self-doubt in the cupboard for a while.”

The winners are:

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Sponsored by ALCS, the Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Stuart Evers and Irenosen Okojie.

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award winner: Dima Alzayat for Once We Were Syrians awarded £1,000.

Dima Alzayat’s short stories have appeared in the 2017 Bristol Short Story Award Anthology and the 2013 Bridport Prize Anthology. She was the winner of a 2018 Northern Writers’ Award, the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize, runner-up in the 2018 Deborah Rogers Award, and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Bridport Prize. Currently, she is a PhD student and associate lecturer at Lancaster University and is working on a collection of short stories.

Irenosen Okojie, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award Judge, says:Blistering. Bold. Utterly mesmeric. Explores what it means to be other with such verve, nuance and specificity. I was bowled over”.

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award runner-up: Bunmi Ogunsiji for Blessing awarded £575.

Stuart Evers, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award Judge, says: “A beautifully controlled, frequently very funny, and emotionally devastating story. ‘Blessing’ has at its heart a character that I was bereft to have to leave at the last heart-breaking lines”.  


Betty Trask Prize winner: James Clarke for The Litten Path (Salt) awarded £10,000.

Betty Trask Award winners: six writers each awarded £2,700.

Samuel Fisher for The Chameleon (Salt)

Imogen Hermes Gowar for The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock (Harvill Secker)

Ruqaya Izzidien for The Watermelon Boys (Hoopoe/Auc Press)

Daisy Lafarge for Paul (unpublished)

Rebecca Ley for Sweet Fruit, Sour Land (Sandstone Press)

Sophie Mackintosh for The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)


The McKitterick Prize winner: Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott for Swan Song (Hutchinson) awarded £4,000.

The McKitterick Prize runner-up: Carys Davies for West (Granta Books) awarded £1,250.


The Paul Torday Memorial Prize winner: Anne Youngson for Meet Me at the Museum (Doubleday) awarded £1,000. Age at publication: 70.

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize runner-up: Norma MacMaster for Silence Under a Stone (Doubleday Ireland) Age at publication: 81.


The Somerset Maugham Award winners: four writers each awarded £4,000.

Raymond Antrobus for The Perserverance (Penned in the Margins) – Poetry

Damian Le Bas for The Stopping Places (Chatto & Windus) – Non-fiction

Phoebe Power for Shrines of Upper Austria (Carcanet) – Poetry

Nell Stevens for Mrs Gaskell and Me (Picador) – Non-fiction


The Eric Gregory Award winners: six poets each awarded £4,725.

Mary Jean Chan for A Hurry of English

Sophie Collins for Who is Mary Sue?

Sean Hewitt for Lantern

Dominic Leonard for This Mysterious

James Conor Patterson for Bandit Country

Phoebe Stuckes for Platinum Blonde


The Cholmondeley Award winners: four poets each awarded £2,100.

Malika Booker

Fred D’Aiguiar

Allen Fisher

Jamie McKendrick


The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography winner awarded £5,000.

Julian Jackson for A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles De Gaulle (Allen Lane)


The Travelling Scholarships: five British writers each awarded £1,600 to enable travel and engagement with writers abroad.

Kathryn Hughes, writer and critic, whose most recent book is Victorian Undone.

Damian Le Bas, Romany writer and author of The Stopping Places.

Nadifa Mohamed, novelist whose novels have previously won a Betty Trask Award and Somerset Maugham Award.

Johny Pitts, writer, photographer and broadcast journalist.

Gwendoline Riley, author who has previously won a Somerset Maugham Award and Betty Trask Award.


Read the full list of winners here.

The Society of Authors’ Awards is a unique evening of celebration with each award chosen by authors for authors and judged by celebrated authors, writers and poets; many former winners themselves. Supporting and empowering writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and giving them time and resources to enable creativity is a key part of the Society of Authors’ ethos and each award is uniquely gifted by patrons – often writers giving back to an industry they love.

About the Society of Authors
The Society of Authors is the UK trade union for all types of writers, scriptwriters, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. They have more than 10,000 members and have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. In 2018, they awarded more than £600,000 in prizes and grants (for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation), and administer the Women’s Prize for Fiction and The Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award.

15 months Society of Authors membership for the price of 12! 

ALCS members can use the code ALCS1512 for 15 months membership of the Society of Authors for the price of 12.

As a member of the Society of Authors you’ll receive unlimited advice on professional issues, including clause-by-cause contract vetting; benefit from lobbying and collective negotiation; discounts on books, insurances and membership to many affiliated organisations. Your membership puts you at the heart of the author community – at events, member-led groups around the country, and in special interest groups – for professional development, campaigning, community, and more.