‘This couldn’t have come at a better time’ – Writers receive £185,000 in grants for work 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.
From work exploring the relationship between journalism and public health, economic inequality in India and cultivating resilience and hope, these grants for work in progress ‘couldn’t have come at a better time’ for 78 writers.

The Society of Authors (SoA) has awarded 78 writers with a financial grant to support their ongoing writing projects, worth almost £185,000 in total. The grants are awarded twice a year as part of the Author’s Foundation and K Blundell Trust to support writers with their ongoing writing projects, by buying them time to write or help with research costs.

Some of this year’s recipients include poet Anthony Anaxagorou, novelist Kerry Hudson, writer and academic Sophie Coulombou, poet Roy McFarlane and novelist Anietie Isong, with writing projects focusing on Britain’s colonial relationship to Cyprus, the ‘darker side of motherhood’, race and racism in the nineteenth century and economic inequalities in India. These grants will allow writers to take on important collaborative work, archival research and allow for ‘robust ground reporting’.

Apply for a grant

The deadlines for applications for the next round of grants for work in progress are 1 July 2021, for distribution in October, and 1 February 2022, for distribution in May 2022.

From 2021, the Authors’ Foundation grants include the World of Books Impact Award – two annual grants of £5,000 each for books of any genre that have the power to inspire progressive behaviour change.

As Covid-19 continues to impact incomes, we are still distributing hardship grants to authors in financial crisis from the Authors’ Contingency Fund.

Hear from some of this year’s recipients below.

Anthony Anaxagorou

‘… sustaining an income has been even more tenuous this year… so this couldn’t have come at a better time’

I’m incredibly grateful to the Authors’ Foundation for receiving an Arthur Welton grant, which will afford me both time and space to develop my forthcoming poetry collection. The impact of the pandemic on the educational and performance sectors has meant sustaining an income has been even more tenuous than it was prior, so this really couldn’t have come at a better time. The collection is set to explore Britain’s colonial relationship to Cyprus in the late 19th and early 20th century, which expands to work around the diasporic experience, intergenerational behaviours and traumas, masculinities, and other intersecting themes.

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His poetry has been published in POETRY, The Poetry Review, Poetry London, New Statesman, Granta, and elsewhere. His work has also appeared on BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4, ITV, Vice UK, Channel 4 and Sky Arts.

Photo © Julian Knxx

Anietie Isong

‘The Authors’ Foundation grant will provide the additional financial resources I require while preparing my novel’

I am deeply grateful and honoured to receive an Authors’ Foundation grant for my work in progress, News at Noon. This novel explores the relationship between journalism and public health, as  well as what it means to be caught between two loves. News at Noon  is the fruition of extensive research, and I have recently signed a publishing contract with Jacaranda Books. Without a doubt, the Authors’ Foundation grant will provide the additional financial resources I require while preparing the novel for publication.

Anietie Isong’s first novel, Radio Sunrise, won the 2018 McKitterick Prize. His collection, Someone Like Me, published in 2020, won Kennesaw State University’s Headlight Review Chapbook Prize for Prose Fiction. Isong’s essay is featured in the anthology, Of This Our Country, published by Borough Press in September 2021.

Sophie Coulombeau

‘Just as important as the grant itself is the vote of confidence in the quality of my writing and the importance of my work’

I am honoured, delighted and deeply grateful to be awarded a Society of Authors K Blundell Trust grant. Since my debut novel was published nine years ago, my creative development has been hampered by pressure to pay the bills with an intensive day job, and the challenges of both baby loss and post-natal depression. The Covid-19 pandemic, as many writers will know, has made everything worse.

My grant from the K Blundell Trust has given me the gift of space and time to work on a deeply personal project. My novel-in-progress follows nine hours in the lives of two very different women brought together by moments of madness. It investigates parallels between the psychological effects of baby loss and those of perinatal illness, and aims to contribute to a recent wave of powerful literature exploring the darker side of motherhood. Just as important as the grant itself is the vote of confidence in the quality of my writing, and the importance of my work. Thank you so much.

Sophie Coulombeau is a novelist, academic and writer for radio. Her debut novel RITES, a coming-of-age literary thriller about friendship, betrayal and the unreliability of memory, was published in 2012 and was described by Philip Pullman as ‘terrific. A story that’s intriguing, puzzling and entirely gripping.’ She has also published short stories in magazines including The New Writer and the Momaya Annual Review, and has written and presented critical and creative features for BBC Radio 3. She is a part-time Lecturer in English Literature at the University of York, where she specialises in literature of the eighteenth century. Her current work-in-progress, for which she has been awarded a Society of Authors K Blundell Trust grant, is a literary thriller about monstrosity and motherhood.

Kerry Hudson

‘It feels incredibly apt that the grant – a symbol of hope in itself – has been given for this particular book’

I am so honoured and grateful to be awarded this Authors’ Foundation grant for my forthcoming book How to Hope – a nonfiction exploration of how to seek hope and access resilience during these complex and challenging times. It feels incredibly apt that the grant – a symbol of hope in itself – has been given for this particular book. It will make an enormous difference to the focus and time I will be able to give to this project. Thank you.

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, was the winner of the Scottish First Book Award while also being shortlisted for the Southbank Sky Arts Literature Award, Guardian First Book Award, Green Carnation Prize, Author’s Club First Novel Prize and the Polari First Book Award. Kerry’s second novel, Thirst, won France’s prestigious award for foreign fiction the Prix Femina Étranger and was shortlisted for the European Premio Strega in Italy. Her latest book and memoir, Lowborn, takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past. It was a Radio 4 Book of the Week and a Guardian and Independent Book of the Year.

Sonia Faleiro

‘I’m grateful to the Authors’ Foundation for this award and everything they do for authors’

I’m honoured to be a recipient of an Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust grant. The award will allow me to complete the final volume in my trilogy of nonfiction books on contemporary India. I have spent the last 15 years writing about the impact of economic inequality and political mismanagement on marginalised communities. This last year has hurt these groups more than ever. The award will allow me to visit these communities for the sort of robust ground reporting that is vital to my work. I’m grateful to the Authors’ Foundation for this award and for everything they do for authors.

Sonia Faleiro is the author of The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing (2021) and Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars (2010), which has been translated into six languages and named The Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year and a Book of the Year by the Guardian, Observer, and Economist. Her writing has received support from the Pulitzer Centre and The Investigative Fund and appears in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Policy, Harper’s, Granta and elsewhere. She is the founder of South Asia Speaks, a literary mentorship program, and the co-founder of Deca, a global cooperative of award-winning journalists. In April, she created Artists for India, an author-led initiative to raise funds for India during the Covid crisis. She lives in London.

Photo © Jonathan Ring

Roy McFarlane

‘I’ll be looking at “maroons” – a term which refers to people who escaped slavery to create independent groups and communities’

I’m grateful to the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust for providing me with the Arthur Welton Award to enable me to work on my third collection of poems. I’ll be looking at ‘maroons’ – a term which refers to people who escaped slavery to create independent groups and communities.  And ‘marronage,’ or running away, which refers to a strategy of resistance.

A section I’d like to call ‘A Short history of violence visited upon black bodies’, will be looking at texts from the 1800s to the present day of posters, leaflets, newspaper clippings with the intentions of creating a series of Erasure poems.

Roy McFarlane is a poet, playwright and former youth and community worker born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage spending most of his years living in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. He has held the role of Birmingham Poet Laureate, Starbucks Poet in Residence and is currently the Birmingham & Midlands Institute Poet in Residence. Also, an Ambit and Poetry Wales Competition winner. His debut collection, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was followed by The Healing Next Time (Nine Arches Press 2018), nominated for the Ted Hughes Award and Jhalak Prize. Roy has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University and the Poetry School and is presently working on his third collection with Nine Arches Press coming out Spring 2022.

Sarah Broughton

‘I want to … reveal the stories of forgotten women who crashed through political, industrial, class and racial barriers and changed [Cardiff] forever’

I’m really honoured to receive an award from the Authors’ Foundation – the support and encouragement it represents for my work-in-progress is hugely significant for me. The Invisible City is about Cardiff – from a female perspective. Biographies of cities tend to focus on the favoured few who funded, built, and profited from them and, unsurprisingly, these were usually men. I want to unpick the fabric of Cardiff, steeped as it is in the aristocracy and draper’s dynasties, in coal and merchants, buildings and statues, and reveal the stories of forgotten women who crashed through political, industrial, class and racial barriers and changed their city forever.

Sarah Broughton is a writer and producer. Her creative nonfiction book, Brando’s Bride, was shortlisted for a Wales Book of the Year Award in 2020. She has also published a novel, Other Useful Numbers (both with Parthian Books). Away from writing Sarah is Creative Head of Martha Stone Productions and responsible for their film and documentary slate. She lives in Cardiff.

John Woolf

‘This award will enable me to engage in important collaborative work, archival research and, of course, the writing of my book’

I am so grateful and massively humbled to receive the John C Laurence Award ‘for work that helps improve understanding between the races.’ The award will enable me to engage in important collaborative work, archival research and, of course, the writing of Black Victorians – a book which builds on my earlier work and explores race and racism in the nineteenth century.

Dr John Woolf is a researcher, writer and historian specialising in nineteenth-century cultural history. He is the author of the critically acclaimed The Wonders: Lifting the Curtain on the Freak Show, Circus and Victorian Age and co-author of the bestselling audiobooks Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets and The Halifax Slasher. He teaches at Hult International Business School and is a local Councillor in Islington, London.

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