Virago sponsors London Library bursary for Black writers

News - Books Tuesday, 12th January 2021

Part of library's Emerging Writers programme


The London Library has opened for submissions its 2021/22 Emerging Writers programme. The programme is for the first time to include the Virago Participation Bursary, created with Virago and designed to support Black women and Black writers from other under-represented genders who would otherwise face financial barriers to taking part. 

The programme offers a year's membership (worth £540) of the London Library as well as writing development masterclasses, literary networking opportunities, peer support, and guidance in use of the library's resources. It is supported by AM Heath Literary Agency, the Julio and Maria Marta Núñez Memorial Fund, and anonymous donors.

A free-to-download anthology, Silence of the Stacks, New Voices Rise, features work by 35 writers who took part in the first Emerging Writers programme (2019-2020). A limited print edition will be available from the library at £8.

Philip Marshall, director of the London Library, said: "The Emerging Writers Programme has proved to be extremely valuable to early career writers by giving them access to the extensive resources and
community of the London Library to help them develop their writing talent. We are delighted that Virago Books are supporting us with the Virago Participation Bursary and that AM Heath continue to support the initiative and we look forward to working with our partners, and with all the writers who are selected for the programme this year."

Virago publisher Sarah Savitt said: "We at Virago read and supported the Black Writers' Guild open letter published in June 2020 calling for action against racial inequality within the British publishing industry, and setting up this bursary was one of the ways we decided to respond. We are a feminist publishing company and know that women and people from other underrepresented genders - particularly if they are also people of colour - often face extra challenges in accessing writing development programmes and we hope this bursary will make a meaningful difference to a group of writers each year. Publishers can't exist without writers - and readers - and we know that the London Library is a wonderful place for both."

The closing date for applications is 5 March. The judges are Virago editor Ailah Ahmed; YA and adult fiction writer Sareeta Domingo; screenwriter and previous EWP participant Karim Flint; poet Will Harris; agents from AM Heath; and travel writer and London Library trustee Sara Wheeler (chair).

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