The Primadonna Prize underlines our ethos of celebrating and giving a platform to undiscovered and unpublished writers.  The winner will be offered the opportunity to be represented by one of the UK’s top literary agents, plus a cash prize of £500.

The Primadonna Prize is kindly supported by Clean Prose

The Primadonna Prize is kindly supported by Clean Prose

First round entrants were invited to submit 500 words of new writing (fiction or non-fiction) on the theme of ‘Primadonna’. Judges at every stage of the competition will be looking for originality, style, imagination and potential, not perfect spelling.

All first-round submissions were read anonymously – judges were not privy to personal details of the entrants such as name or gender.

The closing date for entries was 30 June 2019.

The standard of entries was wonderfully high. Congratulations to everyone who entered and especially to the 30 longlisted entrants:

Aliya Ali-Afzal

Anna M Korving

Becky Docton

Carol Caffrey

Claire Crossan

Claire Mannion

Dani McCarthy

Deborah Barker

Edward Creamer

Elena Casas

Elissa Soave

Elizabeth Wong

Farah Ahamed

Georgina Salmon

Harriet Bradley

Henry Barnes

James Roseman

Joanne Howell

Julie Rea

Lindsey Jenkinson

Lisa Jenkins

Louise Powell

Lyn Ellis

Matilda Leyser

Molly Hodgson

Naomi Paulus

Renee Jacobs

Ruth Goldsmith

Sarah Dale

Sinead Beverland

From this exceptionally strong longlist, our second-round judges, all professional editors working for a top publisher and reading the work without any identifying information about the author, unanimously selected five stunning entries for the shortlist. Our congratulations to the shortlisted authors, who are invited to read their entries at the Primadonna Festival, and will go into the third and final round. They are:

Becky Docton

Claire Mannion

Elissa Soave

Farah Ahamed

Julie Rea

Entrants shortlisted are invited to submit a second piece of writing, of 3000 – 5000 words, by December 2019.

All second-round entries must be accompanied by a summary of the written entry. For fiction submissions, we will require an accompanying  ‘back-of-book’ blurb of 250 words max, and for non-fiction an overview of the finished project, also 250 words max.

Who are the judges?
All first-round entries were judged by the Primadonnas. Those selected for the second round were passed to group of editors from one of the UK’s largest publishers who chose five entries (a mix of fiction and non-fiction, the ratio of which was determined solely by the quality of the writing).

The shortlisted writers have been asked to present their work as part of a special event at the inaugural Primadonna Festival which takes place between 30 August and 1 September 2019 in Pettaugh, Suffolk.

The final judging panel will select one overall winner. Our three external judges are : Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and many other bestsellers; Lemn Sissay, #1 best-selling author of My Name is Why, official poet of the London Olympics and newly awarded the Pinter Pen Prize; and Irish novelist Neil Hegarty. They are joined by Primadonnas Lisa Milton, Monisha Rajesh and Cathryn Summerhayes.

What is the prize?

  • 1st Prize:  £500 cash prize, plus the offer of representation by Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown (the 2019 British Book Awards’ Agent of the Year)

  • Runner-Up Prize (fiction): £100 cash prize and a two-hour mentoring session with author and Primadonna, Kit de Waal.

  • Runner-Up Prize (non-fiction): £100 cash and a two-hour mentoring session with author, journalist and Primadonna, Catherine Mayer.

  • Mentoring sessions will either be in person, on the phone or via Skype.

  • All shortlisted entrants will be offered two complimentary tickets to the festival and a Primadonna Festival T-Shirt.

The Primadonna Prize – Terms and Conditions:

  1. This is a competition being run by Primadonna Festival. The first prize for this competition is £500 plus, if the winner so chooses, representation by Curtis Brown’s Cathryn Summerhayes (named Agent of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards). In addition there will be a runner-up prize (fiction) of £100 plus two hours’ mentoring with fiction writer Kit de Waal; and a runner-up prize (non-fiction) of £100 plus two hours’ mentoring with former journalist and author Catherine Mayer. (‘Winner’ means the winner of the first prize.)

  2. Please note that the mentoring sessions may be in person, by phone or via skype.

  3. The prize will be awarded for the most original and exciting work (the ‘Content Criteria‘).

  4. Entrants to the competition can be of any gender, and must be at least 18 years old, and must be resident in the Uk & Eire. Entrants must not have had a book published in any format previously by a mainstream publisher or be under contract for publication by such a publisher. These requirements are referred to as the ‘Entrants Criteria’.

  5. Entrants are required to submit in the first instance 500 words of new writing – fiction or narrative non-fiction – on the title ‘Primadonna’. The second round, for those shortlisted from round one, will require a submission of 3,000-5,000 words. This can be work that has previously been written but not have been published by a mainstream publisher or publication. For fiction submissions, we will require a ‘back-of-book’ blurb of 250 words max, and for non-fiction an overview of the finished project, also 250 words max. Submissions must be in English and must be double spaced.  A small entry fee of £8 is payable on submission. This cost is however, redeemable against the full cost of a weekend festival ticket. If this entry fee cannot be met, a limited number of free entries are available. If you are from a low income household and require a free entry, please email us  Documents should be in PDF or Word format and the name of the document should be your own name, followed by either ‘fiction’ or ‘non-fiction’. Submissions must be made to

  6. Initial entries will be judged on the originality of the writing. Judges will not be looking for a perfectly polished piece but for something that shows imagination and writing skill. Shortlisted entrants who make a second submission will be judged on the originality and quality of the writing, and the potential based on their synopsis for a full-length book that could successfully find a publisher.

  7. A longlist of up to 10 submissions (the ‘Longlisted Submissions’) will be chosen from entries received in accordance with these Terms and Conditions by members of Primadonna festival. The Longlisted Submissions will be submitted to a first set of judges comprised of professional literary editors – they will choose a shortlist of five submissions (the ‘Shortlisted Submissions’).

  8. Shortlisted submissions will be judged by a second set of judges who will include published writers, agents and journalists. These judges will then select one winner and two runners-up.

  9. Winning entries will be the ones that best meet the Content Criteria, have the best quality of writing and the most potential to be a full-length book, and are from entrants who meet the Entrants’ Criteria. The Judges’ decision is final.

  10. The Winner will be offered £500 cash and representation by literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown – contract to be agreed between the Winner and Cathryn Summerhayes if the Winner chooses to take this representation.

  11. Primadonna Festival reserves the right to not select any winner from the Shortlisted Submissions if a suitable entry that meets all the criteria set out above cannot be found.

  12. By submitting their work entrants undertake and warrant that their Submissions will consist of their own original work and will not infringe the intellectual property rights of anyone. If a third party’s material is used – such as lyrics of a song – the entrant will secure the necessary permission and will provide it to Primadonna Festival on request. The entrant further warrants that the work will not contain any material which is defamatory, private or confidential or which is unlawful in any way. Any entry in breach of this clause will be disqualified from being considered for the shortlist or by the Judges.

  13. Entries must be submitted by emailing entries via email to in Word or PDF format. Entries may be submitted only between 12:01am BST on 28 May 2019 and 11.59pm BST on 30 June 2019. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates, and any entries that do not meet the requirements of these Terms and Conditions, will not be eligible for entry to the competition.

  14. Names of the longlisted entrants will be announced on the Primadonna Festival website on 10 July 2019.

  15. Names of the shortlisted entrants will be announced on the Primadonna Festival website on 25 July 2019. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to submit their second piece of 3000-5000 words by the closing date of December 1st 2019.

  16. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to attend a special prize event during the weekend of festival (30 August to 1 September). They will be informed via email and invited to the Primadonna Festival in Suffolk. Their names may also be publicised by the Primadonna Festival in other media or on social media sites

  17. The final winner and two runners-up  will be announced on March 1st 2020.

  18. The competition is not open to employees of Primadonna Festival or their families, or to anyone professionally connected to the competition or to the judges either themselves or through their families.

  19. An entrant may only submit one entry. Further entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.

  20. Primadonna Festival is not responsible for contacting or responding to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries that are lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.

  21. Primadonna Festival reserves the right to cancel the competition and to alter the details of the Prizes or judging panels without notice. No cash alternative or other alternatives to the Prize will be provided.

  22. The names and email addresses of entrants (‘Information’) will be collected by Primadonna Festival and will be used in accordance with GDPR rules. Information will not be shared with anyone outside Primadonna Festival.  The Winner and two Runners-Up will be asked for their bank details so that their prize money may be sent to them. Such details will be deleted after the money has been sent except insofar as it is necessary for Primadonna Festival to keep them for its financial records. 

  23. Entry to the competition is subject to an £8 administration fee, which is redeemable against the full price of a festival ticket. We are well aware that not all aspiring writers will be able to afford the entry fee/administration charge and have set aside a number of free places for applicants in receipt of Jobseeker’s allowance; Disability benefit; Income support; and Working tax credit. If you are on low income for other reasons, please get in touch ( and we'll see how we can best support your entry.

  24. If you or your organisation would like to sponsor entries for the competition to allow those unable to pay the administration fee, please email (

  25. By entering the competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

  26. These Terms and Conditions and any disputes or claims (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of these Terms and Conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England, whose courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction.

  27. This competition is being organised by Primadonna Festival, Laffitts Hall, Pettaugh, Suffolk, IP14 6DT.