Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award

For full-length fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged 18-35

The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award is an annual award, made possible by the Charlotte Aitken Trust and the Sunday Times. The prize of £10,000 is awarded for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by a British or Irish author aged 18-35 years. There are prizes of £1,000 for each shortlistee. The winning book will be the work of the most outstanding literary merit. 

The 2022 Prize is now closed.

The 2022 Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award Winner


© Beth Moseley

Novelist and screenwriter Tom Benn, has been named winner of the 2022 Sunday Times Charlotte
Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award for Oxblood, a novel that judge Oyinkan Braithwaite called a
‘bountiful, fearless work of literary art’, daringly exploring masculine violence and fractured
female agency through the domestic lives of three generations of working-class women in 1980s

Oxblood is a landmark novel shifting the perspective on male violence towards the female experience of
grief, love and resilience. Set in a council house haunted by memories of dead family members, Benn’s unflinching storytelling unearths the forgotten working class voices left in the footnotes of Manchester’s industrial history, shrouded by criminal secrecy and steeped in a powerful emotional darkness which left this year’s judges’ ‘bowled over’ and certain that Tom Benn’s talent will only continue to ‘grow and grow’.

2022 Shortlist


The most influential prize for young writers, The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award, announces its shortlist of authors, described as ‘immensely powerful’ by Chair of Judges Andrew Holgate, whilst the new Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, Johanna Thomas-Corr, praises the authors ‘who refuse to be bent into shape’. The judges have chosen:

© Sophie Davidson
  • Lucy Burns, a debut writer from Manchester, for her intimate memoir, Larger than an Orange, which examined the dichotomy between abortion as a political statement and an individual experience, and was selected as one of The Sunday Times Books of the Year 2021
© Ben Mankin
  • London-born debut novelist Maddie Mortimer for Maps of our Spectacular Bodies, a lyrical and captivating look at mortality, desire and forgiveness, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022
© Kate Subin
  • Oxford Fellow, Katherine Rundell, for the only non-fiction title on the shortlist and winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2021, Super-Infinite, an illuminating and complex portrait of England’s greatest love poet, John Donne

2022 Judges

This year’s judges are spearheaded by the former Literary Editor of The Sunday Times Andrew Holgate, who remains as Chair of Judges, and the new Sunday Times Literary Editor, Johanna Thomas-Corr who are joined by critic and journalist Stig Abell, poet Mona Arshi, author Oyinkan Braithwaite, and novelist and earlier winner of the prize, Francis Spufford.

  • Stig Abell said: “It is impossible to talk about writing by comparatively young people without sounding old and fusty and a bit envious. But the books we’ve picked are genuinely exciting and fresh; they are thought-provoking without being arch, and innovative without being annoying about it. The central thinking behind their selection is simple and what it should always be: they are great stories told in a way that lingers in the mind after you close the book.”

  • Oyinkan Braithwaite said: “The shortlist comprises a formidable selection of works that are ambitious, unorthodox, unflinching. They may vary wildly in subject matter and style, but each of them is an example of the expert finessing of language and form. The authors have certainly earned their place here.”

  • Francis Spufford said: “I’m delighted by the haul of treasures our shortlist represents. We’ve got non- fiction whose every sentence glitters with intelligence; life-writing that makes radical and heartfelt use of form; a crime novel that claims the richest and darkest of emotional territory; and a piece of literary innovation which plays its way to the limits of life and death. And just behind them, there was a mass of other lovely stuff we were sorry to have to leave out. On this showing, the future of writing is very strong – and incredibly various.”

If you are interested in reading any of these titles, you can find the books online here
A percentage of each sale purchased through this link will be donated to the SoA Contingency Fund, which provides small grants to writers in immediate financial need.

  • UK and Irish citizens and those who have been resident in the UK and/or the Republic of Ireland for the three years preceding the award are all eligible.
  • The author must be between the ages of 18 and 35 years on 31 December 2022. 
  • The work submitted must be by one author in the English language. 
  • The work submitted must have been first published in the UK and/or the Republic of Ireland, in the English language, between 1 September 2021 and 31 October 2022.  
  • The work submitted must be by a living author.
  • Ebooks must be submitted in PDF format. 
  • Publishers may enter up to three entries per imprint and may provide a written submission for one further title for possible call in. 
  • Full terms and conditions for entry can be found on the entry form via the Enter Now button above.

For any queries relating to the prize please contact [email protected]

Tom Benn for Oxblood (Bloomsbury)
Lucy Burns for Larger than an Orange (Chatto & Windus)
Maddie Mortimer for Maps of our Spectacular Bodies (Picador)
Katherine Rundell for Super-Infinite (Faber & Faber)

Cal Flyn for Islands of Abandonment (HarperCollins)
Anna Beecher for Here Comes the Miracle (Orion)
Rachel Long for My Darling from the Lions (Picador)
Caleb Azumah Nelson for Open Water (Penguin Random House)
Megan Nolan for Acts of Desperation (Jonathan Cape)

Jay Bernard
for Surge (Chatto & Windus)
Catherine Cho
for Inferno (Bloomsbury)
Seán Hewitt for Tongues of Fire (Penguin Books)
Marina Kemp for Nightingale (HarperCollins)

Raymond Antrobus
for The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins)
Julia Armfield
for Salt Slow (Picador)
Yara Rodrigues Fowler for Stubborn Archivist (Fleet, Little, Brown)
Kim Sherwood for Testament (Quercus)

Adam Weymouth
for Kings of the Yukon (Particular Books)
Fiona Mozley
for Elmet (John Murray)
Laura Freeman for The Reading Cure (W&N)
Imogen Hermes Gowar for The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (Vintage)

Sally Rooney
for Conversations with Friends (Faber & Faber)
Julianne Pachico
for The Lucky Ones (Faber & Faber)
Claire North for The End of the Day (Orbit)
Sara Taylor for The Lauras (Windmill Books)
Minoo Dinshaw for Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman (Allen Lane)

Max Porter
for Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Faber & Faber)
Andrew McMillan
for physical (Jonathan Cape)
Jessie Greengrass for An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It (JM Originals)
Benjamin Wood for The Ecliptic (Scribner)

Sarah Howe
for Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus)
Her book of poetry was also awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Ben Fergusson
for The Spring of Kasper Meier (Abacus)
Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
Sara Taylor for The Shore (Windmill Books)

2009 Winner – Ross Raisin for God’s Own Country (Penguin)
His novel was also awarded a Betty Trask Award in 2008.

2008 Adam Foulds for The Truth about These Strange Times (Weidenfeld)

2007 Naomi Alderman for Disobedience (Viking)

2004 Robert Macfarlane for Mountains of the Mind (Granta)

2003 William Fiennes for The Snow Geese (Granta)

2001 Zadie Smith for White Teeth (Hamish Hamilton)

2000 Sarah Waters for Affinity (Little, Brown)

1999 Paul Farley for The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (Macmillan)

1998 Patrick French for Liberty or Death (HarperCollins)

1997 Francis Spufford for I May Be Some Time (Faber & Faber)

1996 Katherine Pierpoint for Truffle Beds (Faber & Faber)

1995 Andrew Cowan for Pig (Michael Joseph)

1994 William Dalrymple for City of Djinns (HarperCollins)

1993 Simon Armitage for Kid (Faber & Faber)

1992 Caryl Phillips for Cambridge (Bloomsbury)

1991 Helen Simpson for Four Bare Legs in a Bed (Heinemann)