New Voices: Emerging Writers Lead the Field as Literature Wales announces Writers’ Bursaries

Literature Wales has announced the names of twenty writers who will receive 2016/17 Writers’ Bursaries. This year’s Bursaries, which total £70,000, will allow these writers to take time out of employment to write, or enable some small-scale travel and research.

As well as supporting a number of established figures in the literary world, Bursaries have been awarded to a wealth of new talent. Fourteen of this year’s authors are first-time Bursary recipients and new writing is particularly supported with the inclusion of ten unpublished writers.

Natalie Holborow, winner of both the Robin Reeves Prize 2015 and the Terry Hetherington Award 2015, will use the Bursary to complete her first novel. Megan Hodson, winner of the 2014 ‘Be a Best Seller’ competition with the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and ITV’s This Morning, is also working on her debut novel. Rebecca F. John, winner of the PEN International New Voices Award 2015, will be concentrating on writing her second novel; her first novel is due to be published in 2017.

In the year of Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, it is particularly timely that writing for children and young people is flourishing in Wales. Bursaries within this genre have been awarded to new writers Hannah Collins, Lucy Dunham, Tegan Pyke and Geraint Morgan.

The landscape of Wales, and mid-Wales in particular, is a source of inspiration for several of this year’s recipients. Readers will be transported to areas largely unknown and unfamiliar in English language fiction; from a mountain near Llanidloes to the Edw Valley in Radnorshire, across swathes of mid-Wales hinterland. Helen Pendry’s novel is set in a landscape of plantation forestry, disused quarries and abandoned farms. Benjamin Smith’s first collection of short stories, A Mountain Speaks, will explore his interest in the relationship between people and the lands they inhabit, set on and around Moelfre Mountain, near Llanidloes. Tom Bullough’s fifth novel will be set in Radnorshire.

Jonathan Edwards, whose first collection My Family & Other Superheroes (Seren), won the 2014 Costa Poetry Book Award, will use his Bursary to work on his second poetry collection. Peter Wakelin will be walking the boundaries between art history, biography and creative response in his volume celebrating twentieth-century artists.

This year’s Welsh-language Bursary recipients are: Llion Jones, Martin Davis, Sian Northey, Christine James, and Aled Jones Williams. Work in progress includes poetry, a verse novel and fiction for young people and adults.

Since 2004, Literature Wales has awarded over £1 million in Writers’ Bursaries, enabling 292 writers to develop their work in a variety of genres. Fiction, poetry, children’s fiction, teenage fiction, and creative non-fiction are all well-represented over the last decade, and in 2011 graphic novels were awarded for the first time.

In 2015, work by five recipients of Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries reached the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year Award: Jonathan Edwards’ My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren), Tiffany Atkinson’s So Many Moving Parts (Bloodaxe), Cynan Jones’ The Dig (Granta), Lleucu Roberts’ Saith Oes Efa (Y Lolfa), and Rhys Iorwerth’s Un Stribedyn Bach (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). Jonathan Edwards’ volume won the Wales Book of the Year People’s Prize, and was also the winner of the highly prestigious 2014 Costa Poetry Award. Kate Hamer, recipient of a New Writer’s Bursary in 2013, has gone on to publish her bestselling novel, The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber) which, amongst numerous successes, was short- listed for the 2015 Costa First Novel Award.

Katie Gramich, Chair of the Literature Wales Bursaries Panel said: “The fostering of literary talent is at the heart of Literature Wales’s mission and I feel privileged as a specialist in the literature of Wales to have been asked to help fulfil this exceptionally worthwhile task by chairing the Bursaries Panel.”

“The literary standard this year was especially high. Obviously this made the Panel’s task in some ways more difficult and more frustrating, but it also meant that we had the privilege of being the first to read stunningly good new work which we know will go on to achieve critical accolades and commercial success. The high calibre of work in children’s and young adults’ fiction this year was particularly striking, and exciting.”

Literature Wales Chief Executive, Lleucu Siencyn, said: “We look forward to reading a wealth of new writing from Wales, from new voices as well as established writers. Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries offer support by allowing writers time and space to fully develop their writing, at every stage of their career.”

Literature Wales delivers the Writers’ Bursaries scheme on behalf of The Arts Council of Wales. The Literature Wales Writers Bursaries will again be funded by the National Lottery, through the Arts Council of Wales.

Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales commented: "These Writers’ Bursaries are a testament to the strength and diversity of writing in Wales. Arts Council of Wales is delighted to continue investing in emerging literary talent. Supporting a new generation of writers is fundamental to our vision.”

To find out more about Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries and other ways in which the national company for the development of literature supports writers and Welsh literature, visit: www.literaturewales.org

Literature Wales

  •   Literature Wales is the national company for the development of literature in Wales. It believes that literature is for everyone and can be found anywhere. The organisation’s many projects and activities include Wales Book of the Year, the National Poet of Wales, Bardd Plant Cymru and Young People's Laureate Wales, Literary Tourism initiatives, Writers on Tour funding scheme, creative writing courses at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre, Services for Writers (including Bursaries and Mentoring), the award-winning Dinefwr Literature Festival, and Slam Cymru – a spoken word youth slam project, and Young People's Writing Squads. The Chief Executive is Lleucu Siencyn.

  •   Literature Wales is a registered charity (no. 1146560) and works with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government.

  •   www.literaturewales.org / Twitter: @LitWales

  •   Literature Wales, Cambrian Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FL

  •   In 2015 Literature Wales received delegation status as a distributor of National Lottery funds. 2016 Bursaries and the Mentoring Scheme are funded by the National Lottery, through the Arts Council of Wales.


  •   Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries are awarded annually and full details are available at www.literaturewales.org

  •   Since 2004, Literature Wales has awarded Writers’ Bursaries worth a total of £1,140,020.

  •   1560 applications have been received.

  •   292 Bursaries awarded to date.

  •   248 writers supported.

  •   108 books and 13 articles published to date, with the support of Bursaries. * This figure is subject to change, and is revised regularly.

    Literature Wales Bursaries Panel 2015-16: Katie Gramich (Chair), Catrin Beard, Malachy Doyle, Julia Forster and Ceri Wyn Jones.

    A full list of all 2016 Bursary recipients is shown below:

    The language of the work in progress is noted.

    Rebecca F. John, Swansea. Published Writer’s Bursary, English, £3,000. Aled Jones Williams, Cricieth. Published Writer’s Bursary, Welsh, £5,000. Tom Bullough, Brecon. Published Writer’s Bursary, English, £4,000. Jonathan Edwards, Cross Keys. Published Writer’s Bursary, English, £3,000. Nina Lyon, Brecon. New Writer’s Bursary, English, £2,000.

    Sarah Coles, Swansea. Published Writer’s Bursary, English, £3,000.
    Hilary Watson, Cardiff. Published
    Writer’s Bursary, English, £4,000.
    Megan Hodson, Cardiff. New
    Writer’s Bursary, English, £5,000.
    Peter Wakelin, Aberystwyth. New
    Writer’s Bursary, English, £3,000.
    Martin Davis, Machynlleth. Published
    Writer’s Bursary, Welsh, £3,000.
    Hannah Collins, Caerphilly.
    Children’s / YA Writer’s Bursary (New), English, £2,000. Geraint Morgan, Cardiff. Children’s / YA Writer’s Bursary (New), English, £4,000. Natalie Ann Holborow, Skewen. New Writer’s Bursary (New), English, £4,000.

Sian Northey, Penrhyndeudraeth. Published Writer’s Bursary, Welsh, £3,000. Tegan Pyke, Cardiff. Children’s / YA Writer’s Bursary (New), English, £5,000. Christine James, Cardiff. Published Writer’s Bursary, Welsh, £4,000.
Lucy Dunham, Cardiff.
Children’s / YA Writer’s Bursary (New), English, £4,000. Benjamin Smith, Llanidloes. New Writer’s Bursary, English, £3,000.

Llion Jones, Bangor. Published Writer’s Bursary, Welsh, £2,000. Helen Pendry, Machynlleth. New Writer’s Bursary, English, £4,000.

Total awarded: £70,000. 

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