Cherie Blair and the author Joanna Trollope have decided privately to sponsor the Women's Prize for Fiction after negotiations with a series of companies failed to produce a headline sponsor in time for next year.
The mobile-phone company Orange ended its 16-year sponsorship of the award earlier this year, which prompted more than 20 enquiries from other companies, according to the chair of the prize's board, Kate Mosse.
The Labyrinth author said that while they were "overwhelmed with interest" it quickly became clear that none of the companies could come on board in time for the 2013 prize as their sponsorship budgets were already committed. Instead, private backers will sponsor the prize, among them Mrs Blair, Ms Trollope, the internet entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox and Christopher Foyle, the chairman of the book chain.
The prize, which is in its 17th year, was set up to celebrate fiction by women authors, with the winner picking up £30,000.