Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Join us at an upcoming event or read about the themes we explore.

The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism: now open for entries

  • By Free Word
  • 9th June 2017
View in Reading Room
If you’re a journalist, critic, blogger or writer interested in examining the arts, you could win a first prize of £3000 and have your work published in the Observer. Find out more and enter by 30 November 2017.

In Anthony Burgess’s centenary year, the annual Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize rewards the best unpublished reviews of new work in the arts. The winning entry will exhibit the same qualities that distinguished Anthony Burgess’s journalism: boldness, deep knowledge, true eclecticism and forthright opinion about the arts in the contemporary world.

The prize is presented by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and The Observer, in association with Free Word.

The prize celebrates Anthony Burgess’s long association with The Observer newspaper, for which he wrote hundreds of pieces as a book reviewer and cultural commentator for more than 30 years, and seeks to discover exciting new journalistic voices of the future.

If you’re a journalist, critic, blogger or writer interested in examining the arts in the contemporary world, you could win a first prize of £3000 and have your work published in print and online editions of The Observer. Two runners-up will also receive £500 each.

The winning writer will receive one-to-one mentorship from a senior editor at The Guardian or The Observer.

The winner will also be commissioned by Free Word to produce new writing for its programme. The commission is worth £1,000 and includes a travel grant and a six-month residency in the Free Word building.

There will also be opportunities for the winners to contribute to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation’s event programmes.

Entrants to the prize must submit a review of up to 1,000 words on new work in the arts. Reflecting the range of Anthony Burgess’s own arts journalism, there is no restriction on art form: the winning piece could be a review of a book, film, concert, exhibition, album, TV show, or anything else that offers the opportunity to write a lively and thoughtful piece.

This year’s prize will be judged by a panel including the book publicist Liz Sich; Free Word’s Director, Roma Backhouse; the Observer’s ​Arts Editor Sarah Donaldson; the Observer’s Associate Editor Robert McCrum; and the Assistant Director of the Burgess Foundation, Will Carr.

Entries must be received by 30 November 2017. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Guardian Media Group headquarters at King’s Place, London, in February 2018.


You can find more information and fill out the entry form here.

Find out more about Free Word here.

Visit the Observer’s pages on the prize and read work by previous winners here.

You may also like

Donate today to become a supporter of Free Word.