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The College announced the 2021 winner of its prestigious Fiction Prize at its online ceremony

Megan Davis has won the 2021 Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize with her novel The Messenger

This was the biggest year yet for the Prize, which received an incredible total of over 750 entries. Six were shortlisted by a panel chaired by political journalist, Broadcaster, Former College President and Honorary Fellow of the College Jackie Ashley. New to the judging panel was Ansa Khan Khattak, Commissioning Editor at Picador and Dr Isobel Maddison, Fellow Emerita of Lucy Cavendish College where she was College Lecturer and Director of Studies in English. Returning to the panel were editor and ghost-writer Gillian Stern, Emeritus Fellow, Lindsey Traub and poet, crime writer and Honorary Fellow of the College, Sophie Hannah. Returning to the panel was also agent, Tim Bates, from our valued literary sponsor, Peter Fraser Dunlop.

Megan Davis is a lawyer in the field of white-collar crime, and is an associate at Spotlight on Corruption. She has also worked in the film industry and her credits include The Constant Gardener, Atonement, Eastern Promises, and the Bourne films. Megan grew up in mining towns throughout Australia and South-East Asia, and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Her novel, The Messenger won the Bridport/Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award in 2018. As well as writing, Megan’s hobbies include boxing and philosophy.

Tim Bates comments on this year winner:

"This year's 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."

College President, Dame Madeleine Atkins said:

“Many congratulations to Megan for this outstanding success. We are delighted to help new authors on their journey to publication and can’t wait to see copies of her novel in bookshops and the Lucy Cavendish Library in the future!”

Many shortlisted authors in previous years have been offered agency representation and have gone on to be published.

Gail Honeyman (2014 shortlist) has topped the fiction charts with her novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (published 2017) a deft observation of everyday life. Catherine Chanter (2013 winner) became a published author with her feminist, post-apocalyptic The Well which has now been published in the UK by Canongate and translated into twelve languages. Catherine has now published a second novel, The Half Sister. Frances Maynard (2016 shortlist) published The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr, a funny, heart-warming and award-winning piece of fiction. She went on to publish Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance in 2019. Emily Midorikawa (2015 winner) and Emma Claire Sweeney published A Secret Sisterhood to wide acclaim. Lesley Sanderson published her gripping thriller The Orchid Girls (2017 shortlist) in 2018 and has since published The Woman at 46 Heath Street, The Leaving Party and I know you lied. Sara Collins’ debut, The Confessions of Frannie Langton, (2016 shortlist) a gothic romance, was published in 2019 in the UK and US. It won the 2019 Costa First Novel Award, has been sold for translation into more than fourteen languages, and has been optioned for television. Laura Marshall’s psychological thriller Friend Request (2016 shortlist) was published in 2017 and has gone on to receive numerous awards. Laura has since published another acclaimed crime thriller, Three Little Lies, and is currently working on her third novel. Claire Askew published her crime debut All the Hidden Truths (2016 winner) and has now also written and published What You Pay For and Cover Your Tracks. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s dazzling debut Swan Song (2016 shortlist) was published by Penguin Random House/Hutchinson in 2018 and among many accolades was longlisted for the Women's Prize For Fiction in 2019. The rights have been sold for television to Balloon Entertainment (Skins, Clique), with Kelleigh adapting the novel as a limited series. Louise Hare debut novel This Lovely City (shortlisted in 2017) was published by HQ in February 2020. Nicola Garrard's 29 Locks (shortlisted 2019) a gritty coming-of-age novel that tells the story of 15-year-old Donny, an ex-gang member from Hackney, will be published by HopeRoad in September 2021. Emma Hughes first novel No Such Thing as Perfect (shortlisted 2019) will be published by Century in August 2021 and her second novel will be out in summer 2022.Susan Stokes Chapman’s Pandora (shortlisted 2020) will be published by Harvill Secker in 2022.

Read about the 2021 shortlisted authors here

About Lucy Cavendish

The College was founded as a women's college for students aged twenty-one and over and which transformed their life chances and gave them professional careers. The College has now embraced Cambridge University widening participation campaign and decided to open those opportunities to new groups of under-represented women of all ages (generally 18+) from October 2020, and from all ages and genders from September 2021, and to welcome and support particularly those who have a passion and commitment to address the global challenges that characterise our societies in the 21st Century. 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.

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

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

Bookings are now open for the Online Lucy Cavendish College Creative Writing Weekend on 25th and 26th September 2021.

Devote a weekend to improving your creative writing skills on our online course, open to all prose writers, regardless of experience or gender. Click on the button below to find out more and book your place.

Creative Writing Course