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University of York to support unpublished northern writers

Posted on 15 December 2020

The University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature is co-sponsoring a major literary award in the North of England – aimed at supporting the next generation of writers from the region.

Literature awardThe NorthBound Award is aimed at unpublished writers.

The NorthBound award, part of the Northern Writers’ Award, is open to writers based in the North of England with an unpublished full-length manuscript for a fiction or narrative non-fiction book. 

The University, in partnership with New Writing North and independent publishers Sarabound, will award the winning writer with an advance of £5000 for their next book, as well as an invitation to read as part of its Writers at York series. The winner will also receive a publication contract with Saraband and a package of support from New Writing North. 


Professor Helen Smith, Head of the University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature, said: “This is a really exciting award that celebrates and promotes the vibrancy of writing and publishing in and about the North of England. 

“Our regional literary heritage is a source of constant inspiration to the University and our students, and we're proud to be part of an award bringing the best new northern writing to audiences across the world.” 

To enter the award a writer should submit a full unpublished manuscript and a synopsis of up to 600 words and complete an application form.  Last entries for the award are 18 February 2021 and the winner will be announced in June 2021. 

Rich heritage

Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager at New Writing North, said: “This unique award acknowledges that our region has a rich heritage of independent publishing and provides a potentially life-changing opportunity for the winner.” 

Newcastle writer JA Mensah, now a lecturer at University of York, was the first winner of the NorthBound Book Award in 2019. Her novel, Castles from Cobwebs, will be published by Saraband in February 2021. It tells the story of Imani, a foundling who is rescued as a baby and raised by nuns on a remote Northumbrian island, growing up with an ever-increasing feeling of displacement. 

Dream partnership

Sara Hunt, Publisher at Saraband, said: “The combination of the University's history, tradition, excellence and its progressive, outward-looking approach to literature make this a dream partnership for us. We look forward very much to working together to celebrate outstanding new writing within our region.” 

The NorthBound Book Award opens for entry on Tuesday, 15 December. For full details, visit

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