New women's prize for non-fiction to end 'old-fashioned' view that only men can be experts
A new women-only prize is being launched to end the “old-fashioned” male domination of non-fiction.
Organisers behind the Women’s Prize for Fiction have devised as a sister award for factual writing, after raising concerns that female authors are rarely feature bookshop shelves dedicated to science and history, or on shortlists for non-fiction accolades.
The new £30,000 Women’s Prize for Nonfiction aims to end the “old-fashioned” view that only men can be experts, and help increase the notoriety and sales of female writers.
Novelist Kate Mosse, Women’s Prize for Fiction founder and director, said: “Everything is skewed towards male authors.
"They are not being reviewed. They are not being stocked.
“If you go into a 'smart thinking' section in a book shop, there are no female writers at all.
“It is really old-fashioned. It's this outdated view that only men can be experts.
“It's a self-fulling prophecy. If the books aren’t talked about, they aren’t stocked, and they aren’t bought, so future books aren’t promoted, and they aren’t talked about.
“We want this prize to show that there are amazing female writers out there with a lot to say, whether it's in science, philosophy, politics.”
The Women’s Prize Trust, which will run the fiction and planned non-fiction awards, is currently seeking a sponsor to fund the new prize.
The award, which will given annually to any writer regardless of nationality for “excellence” in narrative non-fiction, spanning history, memoir, music and nature writing, to science, philosophy and biography.
The prize was devised after research by the Women’s Prize Trust found that female writers in these genres made up only a third of non-fiction prize winners over the past ten years, with almost 70 per cent of top awards being claimed by men.
Ms Mosse said that this leads to fewer books by female writers being stocked in bookshops, fewer reviews of these volumes, and ultimately a gender pay gap between less well-presented female authors and high-profile male authors.
The Women’s Prize Trust hopes to launch its planned award in 2024, and the first three years of £30,000 prizes will be coveted by donations by the Charlotte Aitken Trust, a charity set up by the late literary agent Gillon Aitken in honour of his daughter.