Yes it’s happening!  The Cheltenham Prize awards will be presented here in Cheltenham on the first Sunday of the  Festival of Literature, that is Sunday 9 October at 4 p.m. at The Suffolk Anthology, Cheltenham’s independent bookshop at 17 Suffolk Parade.  Suffolk Parade is just off Suffolk Square just south of the town centre and the bookshop is next  to the Festival ticket  office.

The cash prizes (£100 for the overall winner and £50 for the  best entry from a GL postcode) will be presented by local author Kim Fleet (see and the book tokens for the runners-up will be presented by  the bookshop proprietor, Helene Hewett.

There will  be readings from the winning entries, either in person or by myself or a fellow  member of Cheltenham Writers’ Circle and I will deliver the Judge’s Report – which is quite short but very complimentary to all the entrants.  Tea and cake will be available and all  are welcome without charge.  The  event should be over  by 5 p.m., leaving you time to fit in another  event at the Festival.

The prizewinners will be announced shortly and after they have been notified individually the names will be published on this site along  with the judge’s report.IMG_1070



Cheltenham Writers’ Circle

Parmoor House, Cheltenham


Cheltenham Writers’ Circle is the oldest Writers’ Circle in the town, beginning life in 1977 as the Prestbury Writers’ Circle and meeting in Prestbury Library.  For the last 30 years we have met in Parmoor House, home of Cheltenham Civic Society.  Over the years we have produced four anthologies and a celebration of our thirtieth anniversary in 2007.

Our current long-serving Chairman, Phil Jones, has contributed a page to this blog at


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