RSL Brookleaze Grants

Awarded by our Council, the RSL Brookleaze Grants support writers (novelists, playwrights, poets, short story writers) who need time away from their normal lives – to take sabbaticals from their jobs, for example, or to travel abroad for research – to write.

Its such an honour and a privilege to be awarded the RSL Brookleaze Grant. Very encouraging to be supported in this way, and motivation to keep going. The Grant will not only allow me time to write and research, but also to slow down and not burn out.

Aisha Zia (pictured, bottom)
RSL Brookleaze Grant recipient, Spring 2016

Besides the practical value of the grant, what is also extremely valuable to me is the recognition given to my work by the Royal Society of Literature.

John O’Donoghue
 (pictured, middle)
RSL Brookleaze Grant recipient, Spring 2016

Apply now!

We are now open for our autumn round of grant applications.

£5,000 is available annually for writers in need of financial support to see a project to completion. This is awarded in two rounds- spring and autumn- and may be split between two or three people per round (averaging four recipients per year).

Grants are awarded to writers (novelists, playwrights, poets, short story writers) who need time away from their commitments, to research and write in order to get a project closer to publication or performance.

Writers need to have been previously published by a trade press (for playwrights, have had work performed in a theatre) or have a commission for the current work. All applicants must be resident in the UK.

Applications should be made by a 1-page letter and must include:

Applications for non-fiction work will not be considered, and those who have already received an RSL Brookleaze Grant are not able to re-apply.

Please email you applications to emailed to, or sent by post to:

RSL Brookleaze Grants
The Royal Society of Literature
Somerset House, Strand
London WC2R 1LA

Closing date for applications for this round is Monday 7 November 2016.

Other grants you may be interested in applying for:



Ben Musgrave (£1,000, Spring 2016)

The RSL Brookleaze Grant will enable Ben to travel to Bangladesh and India to research his new play for Tara Arts, Indigo Giant (working title), planned for production at the new Tara Theatre in 2017. The play will explore how Indigo planters in 19th century India, greedy for Indigo (that magical, mysterious, fickle substance), exploited Bengali peasant farmers – until they rebelled in 1859. Out of that rebellion came DB Mitra’s extraordinary and incendiary play, Nil Darpan (The Indigo Mirror), which is still a key text of Bengali theatre. Indigo Giant will be, in part, a response to Nil Darpan. Ben will travel to the key territories of the Indigo trade, in search of Nil Darpan, and in search of the stories and places that inspired it. Ben grew up in Bangladesh, India and the UK. His first play, Pretend You Have Big Buildings, won the inaugural Bruntwood Prize in 2006, and since then he has written many plays, including the award-nominated His Teeth, and last year’s Crushed Shells and Mud. 

John O’Donoghue
(£1,000, Spring 2016)

John is grateful to all at the Royal Society of Literature and to the RSL Council for awarding him an RSL Brookleaze Grant to continue work on his novel, The Palace of Wisdom. The grant will enable him to spend time in Northampton, researching the poets John Clare and Robert Lowell, who were both patients of the Northampton Lunatic Asylum (St Andrew’s in Lowell’s day).

Aisha Zia (£1,000 Spring 2016)

The RSL Brookleaze Grant will support Aisha to write and develop her new play Ground (working title) while she is working with award winning theatre company Common Wealth, and Eastern Angles Theatre Company in Peterborough. The play considers the fallout of capitalism and our personal struggles within it through the lens of food. It will be staged in the basement of a Tesco Extra. Aisha’s previous plays include No Guts, No Heart, No Glory, a play about Muslim female boxers staged in real boxing gyms (winner of the Scotsman Fringe First award, 2014), and Our Glass House, a play about domestic abuse staged in disused houses across the country (winner of the Highly Commended award from Amnesty Internationals Freedom of Expression Awards, 2013). Both plays were immersive, site-specific and successfully engaged none-theatre audiences.



Shazea Quraishi, £1250 (Autumn 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will allow Shazea to take time out from teaching and other projects to focus on writing her new poetry collection. Part of this time out includes a week of research and writing at the Museum of Childhood. Shazea lives in London where she works as a writer, translator and creative writing facilitator. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Ten (2010, Bloodaxe), PN Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. Shazea has two collections: The Courtesans Reply (2012, flipped eye) and The Art of Scratching (2015, Bloodaxe).

Dan Powell
, £1250 (Autumn 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will enable Dan to take time from his teaching work in order to focus on the completion of his latest novel and a new short story collection. It will also provide part of the funding for a research trip in support of his novel. His short stories have appeared across the internet and in numerous print publications, including The Best British Short Stories 2012, Unthology, and The Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015. His debut collection of short fiction, Looking Out of Broken Windows, is published by Salt.

Tom Lee, £2500 (Spring 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant would enable Tom to take a six month sabbatical from his job at King’s College London, and complete his second collection of stories, provisionally titled Big Cat. His stories have appeared in numerous publications including The Sunday Times, Prospect Magazine, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope All Story, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Afsaneh Gray, a small grant (Spring 2015)
The small grant will enable Afsaneh to take a week off from work to focus on the play she is currently writing based on the true story of an unlikely friendship between a British bishop in 19th Century colonial South Africa and his Zulu servant, William Ngidi. Her  previous work has been seen in venues including the Soho Theatre, Bush Theatre, Riverside Studios and V&A Museum, and she was a member of the Summer 2014 Royal Court Studio Group.



Bethan Roberts: £1,500 (Autumn 2014)
Bethan is working on Cilla & Elvis, a fictional recreation of the early life of Elvis Presley, framed by the story of one of his English fans, Priscilla, who travels to Memphis in search of her estranged mother. The grant will make it possible for Bethan to travel to Tupelo, Mississipi and Memphis, Tennessee, enabling her to evoke the ‘sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures’ of both places. Bethan is the award-winning author of four previous novels.

Benjamin Myers: £1,000 (Autumn 2014)
Currently working on a novel inspired by an 18th-century gang of criminals, ‘the Coiners’, who were led by a charismatic ‘king’, David Hartley, and who made their money by clipping coins to create new ones. Benjamin’s last novel, Pig Iron, won the inaugural Gordon Burn Award, which gives him the use of a cottage in the Scottish borders for three months. The Brookleaze Award will enable him to use this time exclusively for writing, without taking on freelance work.

Laline Paull: £2,500 (Spring 2014)
Laline will conduct two separate research trips – at dusk and dawn of the Arctic night – for her second commissioned novel, to be published by 4th Estate.



Neil Rollinson Autumn 2013
A poet who has decided to move his focus to prose and wanted the time and space to write a collection of short stories.

Debbie Johnson Spring 2013
Travelled to New York to research her second novel (published by Del Rey UK an imprint of Random House) a follow-up to her first book set in Liverpool and Dublin.