Charitable and Partnership Activity

 

The Women’s Prize for Fiction (WPFF) was founded in 1996 with a dual purpose: both to celebrate & honour the best of fiction writing by women and to fund a range of educational, charitable and philanthropic initiatives to benefit readers.  Our aims were simple: to put exceptional quality literature from all over the world into the hands of male and female readers of all ages who’d enjoy it; and to invest, nourish, support and engage with readers in order to more widely promote & foster writing of excellence.

For twenty-four years, the Prize has sought to transform the international debate around reading and has championed diversity in all its forms. Through our year-round programme of readers events, educational & research projects and digital initiatives we have connected thousands of writers with millions of readers all over the world.

You can become a Patron today and help us continue our important work, plus receive exclusive benefits such as invitations to special private events, signed copies of our shortlisted books and even involvement in the future of the Women’s Prize.

Head to our Support Us page to find out how you can become part of the Women’s Prize story.

Libraries

The WPFF was founded with an inbuilt relationship with libraries.  Working with various agencies including The Reading Agency (TRA), we work to ensure that every reader can engage with the WPFF regardless of where they live. In the past twenty-four years, library initiatives have included enabling shortlist parties and providing free downloadable materials; supporting shadow judging parties held in libraries and live streaming to key libraries during the Awards Ceremony so male & female readers all over the country can engage with the event. Last year (2017) we partnered with over 900 libraries.

Reading Groups

In order to increase reader engagement throughout the country – and to connect male and female readers with WPFF shortlisted authors – we regularly run Reading Group competitions, providing free materials and discounted copies of shortlisted titles.  In the past, groups have shadowed the main Prize and chosen their own winners, and we have also run activities specifically supporting workplace reading groups. Winning groups have been invited to the Awards Ceremony, barring one year when the winning group was from a men’s prison so we sent an author to them instead, for an in-prison event about the shortlisted books and the importance and value of reading

Education & Young People

The founding principle of the WPFF is to engage with readers of all ages and to support reluctant readers through outreach initiatives. Here are three examples of projects WPFF has established & funded.

Focus on Fiction KS3

Our teaching pack, ‘Focus on Fiction’ was provided free for teachers of English KS3 to all state secondary schools in the UK.  Focusing on boys’ reading, it was a series of recommended books and classroom activities designed to appeal to boys of that age group. More than 1000 schools engaged with WPFF through this initiative.

Chatterbooks

In 2001, working with TRA, WPFF set up the largest ever network (to date) of children’s reading groups, Chatterbooks.  Dame Jacqueline Wilson was the Patron and WPFF provided packs free to groups, schools and libraries to support children’s reading groups.  Aimed at girls and boys, it aimed to engage with young readers and to foster a love of the benefits of communal reading and sharing favourite books.  Over the period of the scheme, some 9000 children took part in Chatterbooks reading groups.

Spinebreakers: Youth Shadow Judging Panel

In 2009, in partnership with the online YA website Spinebreakers, WPFF set up a shadow Young People’s Panel.  Six young people – three girls, three boys – aged between 16-18 were given the shortlist and met to decide their winner.  We held the judging meeting at Clarence House in the presence of the Duchess of Cornwall.

SheCanWeWill 

In partnership with our sponsor, NatWest, we support and promote their “She Can We Will” campaign, aiming to diversify the talent pool by recognising the need for more female role models. Focusing on young women from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 14-18, the aim is to inspire them to reach their potential by exposing them to female role models in fiction and the literary world. An ‘Inspiration Session’ for this age group with author Kit de Waal took place at a Wolverhampton youth centre in October 2018, and NatWest and the Women’s Prize for Fiction will be promoting a YA reading list for young women throughout 2019.

Universities, Research & Archives

The WPFF is engaged in conversations about gender & literature and the importance of literary prizes for promoting & celebrating writing of quality. Working in partnership with universities and the publishing industry, the WPFF has therefore invested in research projects to benefit readers and students of publishing. Examples include:

Shadow Male Judging Panel

In 2001, as part of engaging male readers with the work of female authors, WPFF set up a men’s panel shadowing the official women’s judging panel.  The aim was to see what – if any – differences there might be between the ways in which the two panels discussed the titles and what characteristics their valued in the novels entered.  The panels chose entirely different shortlists except for one title – Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection. However, both the male & female panels chose it as their winner!

Gender & Reading

In 2002, WPFF commissioned Dr Jenny Hartley of the University of Roehampton and Book Marketing Ltd to conduct the largest ever piece of research on gender and reading, which saw 400 men and women were interviewed about their reading habits. It provided the most significant and comprehensive contribution to analysis of gender and reading.

Kingston University, London: Archives & Special Collections

In 2013, WPFF donated its archive to Kingston University so that students of publishing, students of creative writing, journalists, academics, arts correspondents, booksellers, publishers and others could have free access to our archive.

Reader Events

The Women’s Prize for Fiction runs a wide range of events for readers throughout the year in order to build relationships between readers and WPFF all over the country.  For example:

Readers Days

In 2008, the WPFF ran a series of major reader events in Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds & Hull. A variety of speakers & authors took part in panels and workshops designed both to support emerging writers and to deepen connections between readers and local writers.

Literary & Arts Festivals

Throughout our history, the WPFF has sought to engage with audiences by providing speakers/programming at literary and other book festivals throughout the year. To date, hundreds of panel & solo events have taken place at book and wider arts festivals in the UK and further afield including: Jaipur Literary Festival (January), Hampshire Libraries Festival (February), University of Hull/City of Culture (April), Sydney Writers Festival (May), Hay Festival (May), Emerald Street Festival (June), Latitude Festival (July), Edinburgh International Book Festival (August), Manchester Festival of Literature (September), Guildford Book Festival (September) Cheltenham Festival of Literature (October), Frankfurt Book Fair (October), Nottingham Being Human Festival (November), Vancouver Writers Festival (Oct/Nov), Finnish Book Fair (December)

Longlist & Shortlist Events

Because WPFF was founded to promote exceptional writing by women to male & female readers, we programme major events around our longlist announcement (March), our shortlist announcement (April/May) and during the week of the awards ceremony (June). Since 1996, hundreds of thousands of readers have attended readings & platform events at venues including the Royal Festival Hall, London, Cadogan Hall, London; national branches of Waterstones Booksellers (eg Chester, Exeter, St Albans, Durham, Birmingham), Foyles Booksellers, London.

Baileys Book Bar

Since 2014, in partnership with our sponsor Baileys, we have run a week of events to celebrate the announcement of the shortlist. The Baileys Book Bar offered free lunchtime readings (from actors Tori Allen-Martin and James Rastall), and evening events including ‘Queens of Comedy’, ‘Women & Power’ and interviews with previous WPFF winners such as Ali Smith and Eimear McBride.

Digital & Social Media

Our digital channels provide a year-round engagement platform for readers, connecting them with a wide range of writers, literary initiatives and events, extending reach of the Prize and its power as a platform for the best writing by women from around the world. Populated daily, our Twitter account can be found here, our Facebook community here and Instagram here. We also host a range of resources for readers on our website including Bookshelfies, interviews with authors and blog pieces.

Additional Partnerships

In addition to our partnerships with our sponsors – currently Baileys, Fremantle & NatWest – we have a range of partnerships with other charities and commercial organisations intended to extend the reach of the WPFF and to engage with as wide a range of potential readers as possible.  Over the past twenty-four years, these include: BookTrust, The Society of Authors, Grazia, Elle, Lush, Blake Morgan, Bloom & Wild, All Bar One, BBC Women’s Hour, The Reading Agency, The Literary Consultancy, the Allbright Club, Bloomberg, The Literacy Trust, NIACE, Book Marketing Ltd.

Get in touch with Claire Shanahan at claire@womensprizeforfiction.co.uk to learn how you can support our outreach work.