Early Career Bursaries

The Early Career Bursaries for London Writers provide three London writers on a low
income a year with bursaries each worth £15,000; £10,000 cash and £5,000 towards
development opportunities. There is more information on how to apply here in written English, and here in BSL and audio. Applications are open from Wednesday 12 July at 12pm (midday) until Monday 25 September at 12pm (midday) (extended deadline)

There is an online information session on Tuesday 25 July all about the Early Career Bursaries designed to support those wishing to make an application. Tickets are available here:  

The Early Career Bursaries aim to make a significant difference to writers’ development of
their craft and support career progression with no expectation of a defined output. The
2023 Bursaries invited submissions from writers of narrative non-fiction and commercial
and literary fiction.

The 2023 Bursary recipients are literary fiction writers Sheila Atuona and C.E Cathcart and
narrative non-fiction writer Selina Suzelle.

“So much of the journey of bringing a manuscript to fruition often misses out the humanity
of the writer – the routines and realities that make support as working-class writers ever
necessary. The writers selected will now be able to have their work championed by key
industry stakeholders, and move forward with their writing in ways bespoke to their needs,
this expansiveness and choice will provide a great example of what can be done when the
keys are placed firmly in the hands of working class writers.” Tice Cin, 2023 Judge

The Bursaries are made possible by a generous philanthropic gift from Sam and Rosie
Berwick, who won the 2022 Achates Prize for Individual Philanthropy for the

If you work in the publishing industry, are a philanthropist or funder and are interested in
having a conversation about the need for philanthropic support for writers and equitable
and accessible early career interventions to address the systemic barriers faced by writers
on a low income in creating work and progressing a creative career, please contact Bobby
Nayyar: [email protected]

2023 Recipients

Sheila Atuona

C.E Cathcart

Selina Suzelle

“Having an Early Career Bursary feels like unlocking the next level of your journey as a writer; you have this dedicated time not just for writing but for experimenting and honing your work through mentoring, workshops, and research/field trips. Also, you have the support of the Spread the Word team, who are on hand to help and advise you. The award has given me the permission I needed to write.”

Sheila Atuona, 2023 Bursary Recipient

2024 Judges

Monique Roffey

Patrice Lawrence

Santanu Bhattacharya

"I know from personal experience how hard it is to develop a career in writing when you know no writers and when life gives you no time or space to write in. The Early Career Bursaries scheme is a brilliant idea. It will be life-changing, perhaps even life-saving, for those it helps."

Sathnam Sanghera, writer and journalist

2023 Judges

Jeffrey Boakye

Luan Goldie

Tice Cin

Dr Mark Blacklock

“The Early Career Bursary has given me the most precious gift of undivided time to spend on my novel, with the aim finally to get it finished and seek an agent and publisher. Through the professional development provided by the ECB, I have had the incredible opportunity of being mentored by a professional writer. I have never previously had someone with such wisdom and experience look at my work, and this has greatly improved the quality of my writing.”

C.E. Cathcart, 2023 Bursary recipient

“It is no overstatement to say that, for an early-career working class writer based in London, a bursary like this could be the difference between staying the course or having to accept the barriers are too many. Working class writers are particularly vulnerable at this stage in their career because there is a lot of graft, often very little monetary reward and even less resources to go around. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world but it is also, for better or worse, still very much the hub of publishing and one which emerging writers benefit by having access to. If we want those from working class backgrounds to have access to a career in writing that is based not on resource but on talent then bursaries like these level the playing field.”

Kerry Hudson, writer

“It’s extremely validating to have been awarded an Early Career Bursary. It has boosted my confidence and helped me to implement a regular writing practice. The support and feedback from mentorship sessions has been invaluable and working towards personalised objectives is a motivating force. As my writing project continues to develop, my long-term goals feel more tangible and achievable. I also feel less of a barrier to entry particularly with the nurturance from Spread the Word as an advocate, alongside access to their wider writers’ network.”

Selina Suzelle, 2023 Bursary recipient

The Early Career Bursaries for London Writers programme is managed by Spread the Word and is supported by a generous philanthropic gift from Sam and Rosie Berwick. Contact Bobby Nayyar, Programme Manager, for more information: [email protected]