The Bodley Head and Financial Times announce the 2019 Essay Prize

The Financial Times and The Bodley Head are proud to announce their seventh annual prize for young writers, launching May 17 2019

Bodley Head Financial Times Essay Prize 2019

The prize aims to discover young talent from around the world in long-form essay writing and has led to many new and exciting opportunities for winners and runners-up.

  •  Alongside last year’s winner – Mark Clemens, for ‘In sickness and in health’, his elegiac account of a doomed honeymoon – four other entrants to the prize were published in FT Weekend
  • Edward Posnett won in 2014 for his essay ‘Eiderdown’ and his first book, Harvest, will be published by The Bodley Head on August 8 2019. Robert Macfarlane has already called it ‘an exceptional first book; Harvest is a subtle, fascinating braiding of travel, cultural and natural history… It is a pleasure and an education to journey with him in these pages.’
  • 2015’s winner, Laurence Blair, has also been signed up by The Bodley Head to write his first book, which expands on his essay, ‘Dreams of the Sea’.
  • Hedley Twidle, winner of the first Prize, is a regular contributor to the Financial Times.

This competition is open to anyone between 18 and 35 years old. Judges will be looking for a dynamic and authoritative essay of no more than 3,500 words in English. It can be journalistic, memoir or a case study; wide-ranging or minutely focused. In keeping with the ethos of both sponsors, it can address any topic — from finance and current affairs to sport, style, history or scientific discovery. We aren’t looking for a particular subject; we’re simply looking for writing that brings its subject alive, and turns the reader’s head.

The judges for the 2019 prize are: award-winning broadcaster and writer on art and history, Sir Simon Schama; Helen Macdonald, author of the multi-award-winning memoir, H is for Hawk; Alec Russell, Editor, FT Weekend; Stuart Williams, Publishing Director, The Bodley Head; and literary agent Georgina Capel, of Georgina Capel Associates Ltd.

Deadline for submissions is Friday August 16 2019 (midday GMT). The winner will be announced in early November 2019.

The winner will receive:

  • £1500 and an e-publication with The Bodley Head
  • Publication of their winning essay in the Financial Times and on
  • A mentoring session with The Bodley Head and Financial Times
  • A subscription to, and a selection of books from The Bodley Head

Two runners up will each win:

  • £500 and an e-publication with The Bodley Head
  • A digital subscription to FT Weekend, and a bag of books from The Bodley Head

Stuart Williams, Publishing Director, The Bodley Head says:

‘In this our seventh year of the prize, we couldn’t be more delighted to celebrate the imminent publication of the first book by a winner – Edward Posnett’s Harvest – and to welcome to the judging panel Helen Macdonald, author of the much-loved H is for Hawk. Last year’s shortlist was one of the strongest yet; I can’t wait to read what this annual litmus test reveals of the subjects that are occupying writers’ minds.’

Alec Russell, Editor, FT Weekend says:

‘Judging the essay prize is one of the highlights of the FT Weekend's year.  Last year's entries unveiled a host of exciting new writers. We look forward to reading more.’

Visit to submit your essay, or to read past winners’ entries.

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