The Asham Award: the foremost short story prize for new women writers.
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Award Update

Thanks to all those who have been in touch to ask about the next Asham Award.

The Asham Trustees are busy behind the scenes preparing the ground for the future of the Award, as well as other projects we have in mind.  We look forward to updating you all on these plans as soon as we are further along in our deliberations.  Please check back to this page from time to time as this is where we will post any details first.   



After seventeen years working for the Asham Trust - and in particular administering the Asham Award - I shall be standing down this autumn.

I have had a wonderful time;  met some amazing people and have seen so many new writers go on to make their names in the world of publishing.  I have also worked with some of our finest professional writers who have contributed to the anthology over the years, others who have judged the competition and  helped in so many other ways. 

I am particularly grateful to Pete Ayrton of Serpent’s Tail, who published the first Asham anthologies when we were totally unknown; to Nigel Newton at Bloomsbury who published four anthologies, served as a trustee for many years and has supported Asham’s work from the start.  Finally I would like to thank Lennie Goodings and her team at Virago for taking Asham to its present dizzy heights.

There are so many other people who have contributed to Asham’s success over the years - Camilla Dinkel for her work on the website;  Kate Pullinger who has edited the collection for a decade; Diana Reich and everyone involved with the Small Wonder festival at Charleston, East Sussex.  I believe our collaboration with Charleston has helped to raise the status of the short story in Britain.

The Asham Award has received generous sponsorship over the past 17 years from The Arts Council of England; Much Ado Books of Alfriston, East Sussex; the Booker Prize Foundation; the Garrick Trust; the John S. Cohen Foundation and Lewes Town Council.  Your help has enabled us to achieve our goals.

 Warm  thanks to Stephanie Anderson and the Asham board of trustees for believing as I do in the importance of encouraging new writers and helping them take that first step on the ladder. Grateful  thanks also to my assistant Lin Long who burnt the midnight oil so many times in processing the entries and helped to keep me sane over endless cups of coffee!

Finally, the award would not be possible without the hundreds who have entered the competitions and have produced some truly amazing short stories.  I believe Asham was a trail blazer -  thank you for helping to light the flame.


Carole Buchan

Please send any enquiries to the chair of the Asham Trust,c/o Town Hall, High street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2QS





The winning writers from this year's Asham Award were at Charleston, East Sussex on September 28 for the prizegiving and launch of the new Asham anthology Once Upon a Time There Was a Traveller.

The prizegiving took place during the annual short story festival Small Wonder and was followed by a special Asham event chaired by Lennie Goodings of Virago. There were readings from Helen Dunmore and Sara Wheeler, who judged the Award with Lennie Goodings, and a further reading from guest contributor Susie Boyt.

At the prizegiving, the judges praised the high standard of this year's entries. Travel was the theme of the competition and novelist Helen Dunmore commented: "Like travel itself, these stories are full of the unexpected. I love the polish and boldness of the writing."

The theme took some unexpected twists and turns. Travel writer Sara Wheeler described the stories as richly diverse. "They took me to many new places, real and imaginary, and constantly confounded my expectations."

Asham results announced

 Summer launch for Asham anthology: Once Upon a Time There Was a Traveller

The winner of this year's Asham Award drew on her childhood in Africa as inspiration for the story which won her the £1,000 top prize. The Journey to the Brothers' Farm by Pippa Gough is described by the chair of judges - Lennie Goodings, of Virago - as a spare and brilliant story which captures the heat and dust of Africa, leading us 'slowly and reluctantly down the road to the brothers' farm...we are torn between desperately wanting and never wanting to know what's at the end of the track.'

Pippa Gough returned to England from Africa to work for the NHS as a midwife and health visitor, but in 2005 undertook an MA in creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. These days, in between writing, she works freelance in organisational and leadership development with public services. Pippa lives in Whitstable, Kent.

Second prize winner is Dolores Pinto for her story Where Life Takes You. It is about a young woman who has somehow ended up in Whitby, a small seaside town where she doesn't belong. She longs to travel back to London. The judges described this as a 'beautiful, deceptively slight story about longing, loss, love and finding out what home is.' Dolores started writing only four years ago, after attending a weekend taster course at an adult education centre. She is now completing a novel and lives in Twickenham.

Winner of the third prize is Deepa Anappara for a quirky, humorous story The Elephant in the Suitcase which is about a forest guard and a pesky, nocturnal elephant who makes him see it is high time to leave. Deepa grew up in India and currently lives in Essex. She is a graduate of the City University's Certificate in Novel Writing course and has already won first prize in the Asian Writer Short Story competition. Her novel in progress was short-listed for the 2012 Yeovil Literary Prize.

Angela Readman
With travel as the theme for this year's Award, it was hardly surprising that many of the stories are on the move - on planes; on trains; on the road - even the school run. The anthology was highly praised by the Guardian's reviewer - Jane Horsham - who said the wildly diverging range of stories and interpretation of the theme 'makes for a lively collection, where the journey from start to finish negotiates sharp bends in tone and setting.' The eight runners-up whose stories appear in the collection are Tessa Green (Departure Time); Diana Swennes Smith (Leaving Her); Kate Marsh (School Run); Penelope Macdonald (A Sense of Perspective); Angela Readman (Birds Without Wings)
Emily Russell (Hwyl); Lynn Kramer (Legs) and Carol Rowntree-Jones (right)  (Level and Nearly Unaffected).
Virago's Honorable Mention award goes to Dawn Nicholson for Pay Day, a heartbreaking story of a teenager who sacrifices everything to send his young brother off on an adventure to save his life. Dawn lives in Lincoln, started writing seriously about ten years ago, completed a part-time degree in creative writing at Hull University and wrote most of her first novel while teaching children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.
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