poems • short stories • flash fiction
History of the Bridport Prize
The Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition was founded by Bridport Arts Centre in 1973 and has steadily grown in stature and prestige. Right from the start the competition attracted entries from all parts of the UK and from overseas. Today many thousands of entries are received from over 85 countries worldwide.
The prize money and entry fees have risen over the years as well and now the first prize in the poem and short story category is £5,000, second prize £1,000 and third prize £500. An additional 10 highly commended prizes (for each category) of £50 each are awarded. A new category for flash fiction with a prize of £1,000 was launched in 2010. In 2011 a second prize of £500, 3rd prize of £250 and 3 highly commended prizes of £50 were added to the prizes for flash fiction. The top four poems are entered for the Forward Prize for Poetry (Best Single Poem), an award not open to the general public. The top (eligible) stories are submitted to the National Short Story Prize and the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.
The Dorset Award is a prize (first awarded in 2007) specifically for Dorset writers. Thanks to the sponsorship of The Book Shop of Bridport, £100 and a specially commissioned sculpture is to be won for the highest placed Dorset writer in the Bridport Prize each year.
In 2001 the Bridport Prize became the first competition to offer writers the opportunity to submit their entry online, receiving 865 entries that year. 2013 saw 12,310 entries submitted online – 30% of which were from overseas.
In 2006 Fay Weldon agreed to become Patron of the Bridport Prize (John Fowles was the first) and notable previous judges include Margaret Drabble, Jo Shapcott, Rose Tremain, U A Fanthorpe, Andrew Motion, Lavinia Greenlaw, Jane Gardam, Don Paterson, Tracey Chevalier, Carol Ann Duffy, Ali Smith and Jackie Kay.
In many cases a win in the Bridport Prize has led to further successes and helped to launch new writers. Kate Atkinson (a short story winner in 1990) said that it was very important, confirming that she had found her ‘voice’. Her short story went on to become the first chapter of her novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. She returned to judge the Short Story section in 2001.
Other noteworthy names include Helen Dunmore (also a 1990 winner) whose Spell of Winter won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996; Tobias Hill, a winner in both categories (poetry 1994, short story 1996); and Kathryn Simmonds, a winner in 2005, who won the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
Closing date for 2014 entries is 31st May, for more information visit www.bridportprize.org.uk
“The Bridport Prize is one of the most cherished in the whole landscape of contemporary poetry – because it has such a strong record of choosing good winners, of making new reputations, and of fostering new talent. I’m honoured to be Patron of the prize, and look forward to seeing who it discovers next year, and the year after, and the year after… .” Andrew Motion