RSL Christopher Bland Prize

The RSL Christopher Bland Prize is an annual award of £10,000 to a debut novelist or non-fiction writer first published aged 50 or over. The Prize was launched in 2018 by the Bland family and friends, with the RSL, in memory of Sir Christopher Bland who died in 2017. Sir Christopher is best known for his leadership in broadcasting, the arts and business. He didn’t start writing until after his retirement publishing two novels to critical acclaim: Ashes in the Wind and Cathar. His play The Easter Rising and Thereafter was staged by the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2016 – 100 years to the day after the uprising in Dublin.

‘I started the creative life at the age of 76, so it’s never too late.’
– Sir Christopher Bland

RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2022

We are now taking entries for the 2022 RSL Christopher Bland Prize. This year’s judges are David Baddiel (Chair), Caroline Criado Perez and Naga Munchetty.

Please ensure you have read and understood the eligibility and guidelines prior to entering. Should you require assistance after having read these, or have any issues with the form, please email [email protected]. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Friday 10 December 2021.

RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021

Pete Paphides won the 2021 RSL Christopher Bland Prize with Broken Greek (Quercus). The judges were Mary Beard (Chair), Monica AliGeorgia Byng and Ben Hunte.

Broken Greek is an original, wry and radical memoir, tracing Pete Paphides’s life against the music that formed its backing track, from ABBA to Dexys Midnight Runners. It takes the reader to the complicated heart of popular music and its paradoxes – it’s a book about sound that starts from the silence of Paphides himself, who as a child refused to speak for almost four years.’
– Mary Beard, Chair of the RSL Christopher Bland Prize Judges 2021


‘When I finished work on Broken Greek, I didn’t even know if it would find a publisher. So, to have even been shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland Prize, was way beyond my wildest expectations. Looking at the shortlist, I didn’t imagine I was in with a shot of winning. I don’t know if Rosanna, Richard, Michael, Louise and Marina feel this way too, but when you write your first book relatively late in life, you feel like someone will correct you if you have the temerity to describe yourself as an author. One of the many beautiful things about this prize is that it will undoubtedly embolden older writers plotting a course through their first book. And I’m grateful and touched beyond measure to be a small part of its story.’
– Pete Paphides, Winner of the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021

Watch our announcement video here:

Read the press release for more information.

For further information and press enquiries relating to the RSL Christopher Bland Prize please contact Clair Chamberlain at Bread and Butter PR

[email protected] 

Other books on the 2021 shortlist:

Rosanna Amaka The Book of Echoes (Doubleday)
Richard Atkinson Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract (4th Estate)
Michael Cashman One of Them (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Louise Fein People Like Us (Head of Zeus)
Marina Wheeler The Lost Homestead (Hodder & Stoughton)
Read the press release for further information.


RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2020

The winner of the second RSL Christopher Bland Prize was Michele Kirsch with her memoir Clean (Short Books).

Watch the 2020 winner announcement below

Please read the press release for more information.

The 2020 judges were Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Chair), Sara Collins and Andrew Lycett

RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2019

‘It’s an absolute honour to be awarded the RSL Christopher Bland Prize. I’m beyond thrilled to know that the judges considered The Salt Path worthy of it and I can’t thank the RSL or the judges enough.’

Raynor Winn won the Prize in its inaugural year for her memoir The Salt Path (Michael Joseph).

Read the press release for further information.


Past winners

2020 Michele Kirsch Clean
2019 Raynor Winn The Salt Path