The whole process starts early autumn of the previous year. The Society of Authors — the Prize administrators — invites UK publishers to submit eligible books, while the Prize Director (Harriet Hastings) approaches potential judges.
Judges are appointed by the end of the year and plunge immediately into reading their allotted books, before meeting to decide the longlist, the shortlist and — shortly before the Award Ceremony — the winner.
The judges are given the key criteria for the Prize – accessibility, originality and excellence in writing by women. They are asked to forget about reviews, publicity spends, an author’s previous reputation, the sense of ‘who deserves it’ and choose simply on the basis of novels that inspire them, move them, make them think – and that they admire and enjoy!
Margaret Mountford (Chair), Laurie Penny, Elif Shafak, Naga Munchetty, Tracey Thorn
Shami Chakrabarti (Chair), Cathy Newman, Grace Dent, Helen Dunmore, Laura Bates
Helen Fraser (Chair), Sophie Raworth, Caitlin Moran, Mary Beard OBE, Denise Mina
Miranda Richardson (Chair), Razia Iqbal, Rachel Johnson, Jojo Moyes, Natasha Walter
Joanna Trollope OBE (Chair), Lisa Appignanesi OBE, Victoria Derbyshire, Natalie Haynes, Natasha Kaplinsky
Bettany Hughes (Chair), Liz Calder, Tracy Chevalier, Helen Lederer, Susanna Reid
Daisy Goodwin (Chair), Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, Michèle Roberts, Miranda Sawyer, Alexandra Shulman OBE
Fi Glover (Chair), Bidisha, Sarah Churchwell, Kira Cochrane, Martha Lane Fox CBE
Kirsty Lang (Chair), Lily Allen (withdrew for health reasons), Lisa Allardice, Philippa Gregory, Bel Mooney
Muriel Gray (Chair), Kathryn Hughes, Maya Jaggi, Marian Keyes, Kate Saunders
Martha Kearney (Chair), Jenny Eclair, Claire Fox, India Knight, Jacqueline WIlson DBE
Jenni Murray DBE (Chair), Jo Brand, Joanne Harris MBE, Jude Kelly OBE, Moira Stuart OBE
Sandi Toksvig OBE (Chair), Karen Cunningham, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Katharine Viner, Minette Walters
Ahdaf Soueif (Chair), Sophie Dahl, Nicolette Jones, Annalena McAfee, Dr Margaret Reynolds
Sue MacGregor CBE (Chair), Professor Gillian Beer DBE, AL Kennedy, Fiona Shaw CBE, Julie Wright
Rosie Boycott (Chair), Kate Adie OBE, Rachel Holmes, Emily Perkins, Suzanne Vega
Polly Toynbee (Chair), Amanda Foreman, Claire Beaumont, Bonnie Greer OBE, Ffion Hague
Baroness Lola Young OBE (Chair), Mariella Frostrup, Nicci Gerrard, Ursula Owen, Honor Wilson-Fletcher MBE
Sheena Macdonald (Chair), Grace Kempster, Bernice Rubens, Elaine Showalter, Erica Wagner
Lisa Jardine CBE (Chair), Fiona Kennedy, Andrea Levy, Val McDermid, Allison Pearson
Kate Mosse OBE (Chair), Val Hennessy, Susan Hill CBE, Margaret Lally, Lorna Sage