Cheltenham has the oldest Festival of Literature in England but until now there has been no Cheltenham Literary Prize.  Cheltenham Writers’ Circle, the oldest writers’ circle in the town (founded 1979) has decided to fill this gap.  With the help of a grant from Cheltenham Arts Council we are launching The Cheltenham Prize, to be awarded to the winner of an open literary competition. To start with this will be a short story competition, for stories up to 2000 words, but any money we make will be ploughed back into future competitions for other literary formats in prose and poetry, hopefully with bigger prizes.

2016 sees the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, so we have chosen as our theme What You Will; in other words, to get off to a good start we are putting no limits on the creativity of our competition entrants.  Since Shakespeare died on 23 April we thought it appropriate to run the competition for nine weeks on either side of that date, opening on 14 February and running until 10 June.  The results will be announced in time for the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in October and we hope to arrange a presentation ceremony and reading during the Festival.

In addition to the prize for the Open competition we will award a prize for the best entry from a GL postcode, which covers most of Gloucestershire (the same entry cannot win both prizes!).  The Open prize is £100 and the GL prize is £50.  Also the runner-up in in each category will get a £15 book token from The Suffolk Anthology, Cheltenham’s new independent bookshop.  In time we hope to attract wider sponsorship.

The entry fee is £2 for each story, up to a maximum of five stories.

Our judge is Helen Hollick, author of Historical Fiction and the ‘Sea Witch Voyages’ and Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews.

We plan to publish an anthology with the winning entries and up to six others specially commended by the judge.

For the full rules and how to enter the competition go to the page on this blog headed Competition Rules and How to Enter.  Elsewhere on this blog we will be putting features on Cheltenham Writers’ Circle, our judge Helen Hollick, The Suffolk Anthology and news of the competition as it develops.

Edward James  –  Competition Organiser

Ed James hands the cheque from Cheltenham Arts Council to CWC Treasurer Geoff Parker
Ed James hands the cheque from Cheltenham Arts Council to CWC Treasurer Geoff Parker