RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction

In 2017, the RSL established these annual Awards for first-time writers of non-fiction through a generous bequest from author and RSL Fellow Giles St Aubyn. Giles St Aubyn, who died in 2015 aged 89, wrote 14 non-fiction books and taught history for nearly 40 years at Eton College. A nephew of Vita Sackville-West, he counted John Betjeman, John le Carré and The Queen Mother among his friends. Read the press release announcing the Awards.

The new awards build on the RSL Jerwood Awards. a previous form of non-fiction awards, generously supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation from 2004 to 2016.

The 2020 Awards

We are now open for submissions for the fourth year of the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for first-commissioned works of non-fiction.

This year, we are pleased to announce that three awards will be presented: one of £10,000, one of £5,000, and one of £2,500 – to provide financial support for talented new writers to complete their first book of non-fiction for a mainstream audience, especially by buying them time for writing or research. Winners will be announced at a reception in London in October 2020.

This year’s judges are: Damian Le Bas, Ramita Navai and Fiona St Aubyn.

Please download the application form for full details of how to enter.

Please note that, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are currently unable to accept postal entries. Please send all entries by email only.

Closing date for submissions: Friday 31 July 2020, 5pm.

Press enquiries should be sent to Annette Brook, Communications Manager, annette.brook@rsliterature.org

For questions about awards and prizes, please contact Martha Stenhouse, General Manager, martha.stenhouse@rsliterature.org.


The 2019 Awards

  • £10,000Harry DaviesOperation Information (The Bodley Head, 2021)
  • £5,000Olive HeffernanThe High Seas: The Race to Save the Earth’s Last Wilderness (Profile Books, 2021)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationRebecca FoggBeautiful Trauma (Granta, 2022)

The 2019 judges were Fiona St Aubyn (Chair), Rachel Hewitt and Kenan Malik. Read the 2019 press release .



The 2018 Awards

  • £10,000 Laurence Blair – Lost Countries of South America: Travels in a Continent’s Past and Present (The Bodley Head, 2020)
  • £5,000 Lily Le Brun – Looking to Sea: Britain Through the Eyes of its Artists (Hodder and Stoughton, 2020)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationPaul CraddockDragon in a Suitcase: A Cultural History of the Art of Transplant (Fig Tree, 2020)

The 2018 judges were: Iain Sinclair (Chair), Laura Bates, Aida Edemariam and Fiona St AubynRead the 2018 press release .

The 2017 Awards

  • £10,000 – David FarrierFootprints: In Search of Future Fossils (4th Estate, 2019)
  • £5,000 – Lisa Woollett Scavenging (John Murray, 2019)
  • Judges’ Special CommendationJoanna Jolly Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine  (Virago, 2019).

The 2017 judges were Richard Holmes (Chair), Afua Hirsch and Fiona St AubynRead the 2017 press release.