V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize

This prize was founded by the RSL at the beginning of the new millennium to commemorate the centenary of an author widely regarded as the finest English short-story writer of the 20th century, and to preserve a tradition encompassing Pritchett’s mastery of narrative.

The annual prize of £1,000 goes to the best unpublished short story of the year. The winning entry is also published in Prospect magazine and the RSL Review.

The short story, my father once wrote, is ‘exquisitely difficult’. For the author, that is. All the same, I hope that many, many people will enter this competition in his memory. And if they want encouragement and inspiration they may find it in one of his own short stories. There are so many to choose from, but I would particularly recommend ‘The Evils of Spain’, one of my favourites, from the very beginning of his amazingly long writing career, or the wonderful ‘Cocky Olly’, written more than half a century later.

Oliver Pritchett

The 2020 Prize

We will open for entries on Monday 2 March 2020. Details of how to submit will be available on this page from that date.

The 2019 Prize

Ursula Brunetti won the 20th anniversary V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize with her story ‘Beetleboy’, you can read her story on Prospect’s website. Read the press release for more information.

The shortlist also included:

  • K.M. ELKES, ‘Alone, But Not Lost’
  • CATHERINE FINN, ‘The Celt’
  • NAT LUURTSEMA, ‘Howling Pack of Undesirables’
  • DIANA MCCAULAY, ‘Picking Crabs in Negril’
  • STEPHEN WALSH, ‘The Leash’

And longlisted:

  • RACHEL BOWER, ‘Holly’
  • JON FORTGANG, ‘Drawing In The Air: The Biro Art of Spencer Williams’
  • BEDA HIGGINS, ‘A Life’
  • SUMANA KHAN, ‘The Touch’
  • RACHEL MALIK, ‘Wires’

The 2019 judges were Candice Carty-Williams, Philip Hensher and Leone Ross. 

We are grateful to to Prospect Magazine for publishing the winning entry online and to ALCS for supporting the prize-giving event and to Faber &Faber for hosting it.

If you have any media enquiries, please contact Annette Brook, Communications Manager: annette.brook@rsliterature.org or call 020 7845 4680.


Past recipients (click the links to read the story on Prospect Magazine)

2019Ursula BrunettiBeetleboy
2018Emily Ruth FordPlease Be Good to Me
2017Emily Ruth FordThe Hikers
2016Fiona MarshallThe Street of Baths
2015Jonathan TelThe Seduction of a Provincial  Accountant
2014Alice JollyRay the Rottweiler
2013Peter AdamsonSahel
2012Martina DevlinSinging Dumb
2011Carys DaviesThe Redemption of Galen Pike
2010Michael NewtonThe Premises
2009Kate ClanchyThe Not-Dead and the Saved
2008Cynthia Rogerson‘A Dangerous Place’
2007Gabriela Blandy‘The Buck’
2006Henry Peplow‘Master Sunny’
2005Jonathan Haylett‘Bendera Beach’
2004Ed Siegle‘Nine Lives, One Life’
2003Cherise Saywell‘Beef Queen’
2001Simon Korner‘Falling’
2000Emma Barklamb‘No and Yes’
1999John Arden‘The Stealing Steps’