New £15,000 prize aims to restore the glory of the short story

Today, with the announcement at the Edinburgh International Book Festival of the world's largest award for a short story, plans are afoot to put it back at the heart of the modern literary landscape.

In an attempt to rejuvenate the literary form, organisers of the National Short Story Prize are offering £15,000 to the winner and £3,000 for the runner-up in what they hope will become an annual event of the size and prominence of the Man Booker Prize.

Funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) and supported by BBC Radio 4 and Prospect magazine, the award aims to re-establish the importance of the short story after many years of neglect. It is open to authors in the United Kingdom with a previous record of publication.

A little more than 20 years ago children were entertained by Jackanory and their parents by Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. There was a blossoming market in short stories as numerous magazines, especially women's, devoted pages and pages to fictional tales.

But by the early Nineties short stories became unfashionable as they were wiped from the magazines and replaced with true-life tales and celebrity gossip.

The publishing phenomenon of the short story, which grew to prominence with Victorian periodicals such as the fiction-packed Strand magazine, which sold more than 300,000 copies when it launched in January 1891, came to an end in Britain.

Although still a popular genre in the US and elsewhere, the organisers of the new prize feel that too much emphasis is placed on the novel as the only way for an author to make a name.

"The novel is a capacious old whore: everyone has a go at her, but she rarely emits so much as a groan for their efforts," said Alex Linklater, deputy editor of Prospect. "The short story, on the other hand, is a nimble goddess: she selects her suitors fastidiously and sings like a dove when they succeed.

"The British literary bordello is heaving with flabby novels; it's time to give back some love to the story."

It is hoped the award will attract fledgling and establish writers. Entries are limited to stories of no more than 8,000 words, written in English. Only two will be accepted per author.

Any story entered must either be unpublished or if published then the first and only publication must have been between 1 January and 31 December this year.

Entries will be considered by a panel of judges, including William Boyd, the Scottish novelist; Francine Stock, the broadcaster and writer; Alex Linklater; Di Spiers, a Radio 4 producer; and the writer Lavinia Greenlaw. A shortlist of five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 next March.

The winner will be announced in May 2006 and the story published and distributed by Prospect.

"Nesta is all about supporting innovation, and while the UK short story may not be new - with a strong history from Joseph Conrad to Will Self - it has been dormant for too long," said Chris Powell, chairman of Nesta.

"The National Short Story Prize will address this by filling a gap in the awards market and breathing life into this once great British literary form, helping it to identify and reward a new generation of talented UK writers."

The award will also form the centrepiece of a UK-wide campaign by Booktrust and the Scottish Book Trust, the national agency for readers and writers, to expand opportunities for British writers, readers, magazines and publishers of the short story.

Lucrative literature awards

The Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is considered one of the world's most prestigious awards. In addition to the £50,000 prize, the honour has the power to transform the fortunes of authors. The most-recent winner was Alan Hollinghurst forThe Line of Beauty - he has since sold 10 times more copies.

Whitbread Book of the Year

The Whitbread Book of the Year was introduced in 1985 as part of the Whitbread Book Awards, established in 1971. The most recent winner, Andrea Levy, won for Small Island, earning her £25,000. After the award sales of her book rose to more than 4,000 copies within days and it has now sold 20,000 copies worldwide.

Orange Prize for Fiction

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate fiction written by women throughout the world. Lionel Shriver won the award this year with her seventh novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, receiving £30,000 and a limited-edition bronze figurine. Winners can expect to sell up to 10,000 paperbacks a month.

VS Pritchett Memorial Prize

A prize of £1,000 is offered for an unpublished short story in memory of the celebrated author Victor Sawdon Pritchett, who became famous as a result of his short stories. The 2005 recipient was the shopkeeper and sub-postmaster Jonathan Haylett, for his short story Bendera Beach.

Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project