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Leading women’s fiction prize is open to unrepresented and unpublished women writers

The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, now in its 12th year, provides a unique opportunity for unpublished women writers to launch their literary careers.

2021 was a record-breaking year for the Prize, receiving a total of over 750 entries. 

Right from its inception, the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize has developed a formidable reputation for uncovering new talent and draws significant interest from the publishing industry. It has been a catalyst for numerous literary careers. The winner of the 2022 prize will receive guidance and support from literary agent and sponsor Peters Fraser Dunlop and a cash prize of £1,500.

To enter the 2022 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize click here.

The 2022 judging panel welcomes back Head of the Books Department and literary agent Tim Bates, from our valued sponsor Peter Fraser Dunlop, Dr Isobel Maddison, Fellow Emerita of Lucy Cavendish College where she was College Lecturer and Director of Studies in English. Returning to the panel once again are also editor and ghost-writer Gillian Stern, Fellow Emerita Lindsey Traub, and poet, crime writer and Honorary Fellow of the College, Sophie Hannah. Chair of the panel is political journalist, broadcaster and Honorary Fellow of the College Jackie Ashley (after leaving the College as its eight President). New to the panel this year are 2016 shortlist Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton, published in 2019 to critical acclaim, and Phoebe Morgan, Harper Collins Editorial Director and author of four novels published by HQ.

Read more about the judges here.

The 2021 winner of the Fiction Prize was Megan Davis with her novel The Messenger.

Tim Bates, Head of the Books Department & Literary Agent at Peters Fraser and Dunlop, commented:

"The 2021 shortlist was of a uniformly high-quality and it was incredibly hard to choose a winner. But Megan Davis's The Messenger stood out for its style and confidence, and its compelling portrait of family relations. It is a gripping and cool literary thriller, that cleverly manages to be both a why- and who-dunnit."

Aoife Fitzpatrick (2020 winner) who just signed a two-book deal with Virago comments: “The judges of the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize have an exceptional record for talent-spotting. And, when I was lucky enough to win the award, their faith and support was hugely important to me - a lasting injection of confidence. I would urge any unpublished writer to enter their manuscript; to share their work with the literary agents at PFD and with the passionate and invested readers at Lucy Cavendish College. From longlist to shortlist to winner, this competition offers real opportunities for authors to be discovered and championed.”

The Fiction Prize and its authors

Since its foundation in 2010, the Prize has been a starting point in numerous entrants’ success stories giving them the platform to launch successful and ongoing careers as novelists, including: 

  • Catherine Chanter (2013 winner) The Well, translated into twelve languages. Published by Canongate Books.
  • Gail Honeyman (2014 shortlist) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which sold one million copies in all formats in America, and over 900,000 copies sold in paperback alone in the UK. Published by HarperCollins.
  • Emily Midorikawa (2015 winner) and Emma Claire Sweeney published A Secret Sisterhood to wide acclaim. Publisher: Mariner Books.
  • Frances Maynard (2016 shortlist) award-winning novel The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr. Published by Sourcebooks.
  • Sara Collins The Confessions of Frannie Langton, (2016 shortlist) winner of the 2019 Costa First Novel Award, was published by HarperCollins and translated into more than fourteen languages, optioned for television, filming now.
  • Laura Marshall (2016 shortlist) award-winning Friend Request published by Sphere.
  • Claire Askew (2016 winner) All the Hidden Truths (2016 winner) published by Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott Swan Song (2016 shortlist), longlisted for the Women's Prize. Published by HarperCollins is currently being adapted for TV.
  • Lesley Sanderson The Orchid Girls (2017 shortlist) published by Bookouture.
  • Victoria McKenzie's Brantwood (shortlisted 2017) to be published as part as a two-book deal with Bloomsbury.
  • Nicola Garrard's 29 Locks (shortlisted 2019) published by Hope Road in 2021.
  • Emma Hughes No Such Thing as Perfect (shortlisted 2019) published by Century in 2021.
  • Susan Stokes Chapman’s Pandora (shortlisted 2020) will be published by Harvill Secker in 2022.
  • Bibi Berki's The Watch (2020 shortlist) published in September 2021 by Salt Publishing.
  • Aoife Fitzpatrick’s The Red Bird Sings (2020 winner, entered as An Arrangement in Grey and Black) will be published by Virgo as part of a two-book deal.

Read more about the successful authors here.

About Lucy Cavendish College

The College was founded as a women's college for students aged twenty-one and over to transform their life chances and give them professional careers. Having widened its intake to students of any age & irrespective of gender, Lucy Cavendish College’s mission today is to attract, support and unlock the potential of students from non-traditional and underrepresented backgrounds who are driven by a desire to make a difference and committed to having a positive and lasting impact on society.

Our undergraduate and postgraduate students come from over sixty countries, and a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Many have changed careers or overcome significant challenges in order to reach University. The College is particularly strong in Medicine, Law, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, the Social Sciences and English Literature.

Contact information Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, T: 01223 768426, E:

To enter the 2022 Lucy Cavendish Fiction prize click here.

To find out more about the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize click here.