SoA awards £185,000 to over 50 writers for works in progress

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
Over 50 authors have been awarded nearly £185,000 in grants this month to help them focus on their latest writing projects – either with research costs or by giving them valuable time to write.

The grants are awarded by the Society of Authors each year as part of the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust to support writers with their works in progress and bring exciting new work into the world from a range of genres and styles, at all stages of literary careers. The grants enable writers to focus on their work without the pressures of financial or time constraints.

Hear from some of this year’s recipients below.

Stories from some of our September 2020 recipients:

Jesse Bernard

This project aims to delve deep and explore the genealogy of underground Black music in Britain through the use of personal, collective and cultural memory. The grant will enable me to set aside time to research and allow for travel across the UK and beyond to capture those stories.

Jesse Bernard is a writer, music archivist and broadcaster. his work across various media predominantly maps the historical lineage of black music in Britain while observing its role in contemporary culture and society. He is currently working on his first nonfiction book examining these themes.

Frances Bingham

I’m thrilled to receive this grant to complete my biography of Valentine Ackland, the cross-dressing poet who was Sylvia Townsend Warner’s lover, and whose gender non-conformism reads today like a political act of artistic self-creation. It’s called A Transgressive Life, which evokes both Valentine’s queer identity and my own alternative take on life-writing, inspired by this mythomanic autobiographer. Financial help with the research and writing costs of the book is extremely welcome, but your support and encouragement for the work-in-progress is invaluable, especially now – so, a heartfelt thank you!

Frances Bingham writes across the literary spectrum and has focused on gender-transgressive lives (like her own) ever since her verse-novel MOTHERTONGUE (The Pottery Press 1999). Frances’ play The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney was produced at the Arcola Theatre in London in 2017 and radio drama Comrade Ackland and I broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2019. Frances published a novel, The Principle of Camouflage, (Two Ravens Press 2011), as well as short stories and poetry, most recently London Panopticon (The Pottery Press 2020). Frances has also edited and written biographical critical introductions for Journey from Winter: Selected Poems of Valentine Ackland (Carcanet, 2008), and a biography of Valentine Ackland is forthcoming from Handheld Press in 2021.

Tom Lathan

Lost Wonders tells the stories of nine species that have been declared extinct since the year 2000, and explores each animal’s natural history, its relationship with and significance to humans, and its extinction. I am both humbled and extremely grateful to receive this grant from the SoA Authors’ Foundation, which will afford me the time and resources I need to work on the book. Thank you so much!

Tom Lathan writes for The FT, Guardian, TLS and Spectator on books about nature, conservation, death and grief. Published by Picador, Lost Wonders will be his first book. Tom lives with his partner and their ceaselessly talkative cat on the North Kent coast, where he is involved with conservation projects.

Patrice Lawrence (won the Taner Baybars Award)

I am so delighted to receive this grant! It gives me the opportunity to research black Londoners from hundreds of years ago and drop them into new, unexpected stories.

Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer for children and young people. Her debut novel, Orangeboy, was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Award and won the Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction and The Bookseller YA Prize. Indigo Donut won the Bristol Crimefest YA Prize. Her fourth book for young adults, Eight Pieces of Silva, was published on 6 August.

John Mapanje (won the Arthur Welton Award)

I am extremely pleased with the Arthur Welton Award which the Authors’ Foundation have offered me. I have embarked on my book about how I survived as an academic and a writer in Britain – an account of the little tales and events, including academic gossip that toughened my life at home and in exile. The K Blundell Trust once offered me small grants for three of my books. I have published 6 books of poems, 1 prison memoir, edited an anthology of African prison writing, and co-edited 3 poetry anthologies. My work-in-progress will be rejuvenated with this award, many thanks.

Jack Mapanje is a poet, linguist, editor and human rights activist.

Derek Owusu

Photo © Stuart Simpson

I am very grateful to the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust for seeing the value in my project and providing more means to help me complete it. It will allow me to visit the necessary places and spend enough time there to emotionally connect, become part of my surroundings and then render it more accurately in my writing.

Derek Owusu is a writer, poet and podcaster from North London. He discovered his passion for writing at the age of 23 while studying exercise science at the University of Bolton. Unable to afford a change of degree, Derek began reading voraciously and sneaking into English Literature lectures at the University of Manchester.

Angela Saini (awarded a grant from K Blundell Trust)

I am deeply grateful and honoured to be receiving a grant from the Society of Authors K Blundell Trust. I have just begun working on a long-term non-fiction book project exploring the history and origins of patriarchy, and although I am fortunate to have supportive publishers, stretching an advance over many years isn’t easy, especially as a working parent. The grant will allow me to travel for interviews, buy the research materials I need, and write the book I want to write.

Angela Saini is an award-winning British science journalist and broadcaster. She presents science programmes on the BBC, and her writing has appeared in New Scientist, The Sunday Times, National Geographic and Wired. Her latest book, Superior: the Return of Race Science, was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and named a book of the year by The Telegraph, Nature and Financial Times. Her previous book, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, has been translated into thirteen languages. Angela has a Masters in Engineering from the University of Oxford and was a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Want to apply?

We award grants to writers twice a year, and the next deadline for applications is Tuesday 1 September 2020. More details on our eligibility criteria can be found here and applications should be submitted via email to [email protected].

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