The Portico Library in Manchester is pleased to announce the panel of judges for the Portico Prize for Literature, as it opens for entries today, Tuesday 8 June 2021.

The biennial prize is the UK’s only award for outstanding Northern writing which is open to new works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry that best evokes the spirit of the North of England. Eligible books will have a central theme or subject that engages with some aspect of the North, whether through place, character or sensibility.

On the judging panel are leading figures from the worlds of literature, the media and academia, who all have an association with the North of England. They are: the award-winning author and former Portico Prize winner Sarah Hall; the poet and essayist and former Young People’s Laureate for London Momtaza Mehri; Anita Singh, arts and entertainment editor at The Daily Telegraph; the broadcaster Melanie Sykes, (also Editor-in-Chief of The Frank Magazine and co-presenter of the Savidge & Sykes Book Club), and the journalist, author, broadcaster and academic Gary Younge.

The Portico Prize was established in 1985 to celebrate the strong regional and literary identity of the North, with the aim of raising an understanding and appreciation of its history and its cultural and literary heritage.

Lynne Allan, Chair of the Portico Library comments:

“The Portico Prize celebrates the spirit and diversity of the North of England and is dedicated to engaging community and public interest in Northern stories, voices and places. This is what makes this prize unique. We are often asked what is meant by ‘the North’ and this is open to interpretation. We can’t wait to discover the myriad stories of the North through writing, whether it is geographical, linguistic, cultural or connected to imaginative locations.”

The judges will choose a shortlist of six books from a longlist of up to 14, which will be selected by the Portico Prize’s Society of Readers and Writers, a revolving group of 21 regional book lovers and literary enthusiasts – emerging writers, historians, librarians, booksellers, performance poets, editors and critics. The longlist will be announced in September, followed by the shortlist in November. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Portico Library in January 2022.

The Portico Prize awards £10,000 to the winner and is now open for submissions. Publishers are invited to submit works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry published between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2021.

Each of the shortlisted authors will be gifted with honorary membership of the Portico Library in 2022.

The deadline for submissions is 31 July 2021.


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