The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

Anthony Burgess

£2000 Prize

The 2014 Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism closed for entries on 31 October 2014. The shortlist will be announced in January 2015.

Please find below prize information and entry details:


  • one prize of £2000 will be awarded
  • the winner will have an opportunity to have their work published in print and online editions of the Observer, and on the International Anthony Burgess Foundation website

Entry details

Sorry the competition is now closed.

in association with The Observer

The world has much solace to offer: love, food, music, the immense variety of race and language, literature and the pleasure of artistic creation. – Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess, best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), was also an energetic literary journalist. In his lifetime he published two substantial collections of journalism, Urgent Copy (1968) and Homage to Qwert Yuiop (1986), and between 1962 and his death in 1993 he wrote many articles and reviews for the Observer, which he often spoke of as 'my paper'. Among his 'discoveries' as a reviewer were Joseph Heller, Sylvia Plath and Umberto Eco.

To commemorate Burgess's long association with the Observer, we have set up the Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism.

Now in its third year, the aim of the competition is to reward new and exciting writing on arts and cultural subjects.

The winning piece will be a 1500-word review of a book, film, a concert, a ballet, a stage play or a TV show. The winner will receive £2000 and the opportunity to have their work published in the Observer.

The judges in 2014 will be Mariella Frostrup, Stuart Kelly and Helen Oyeyemi. More about the judges is here.

When choosing the winner, the judges will be looking for imaginative, original, and thought-provoking arts journalism that would be suitable for publication in the Observer. They will be looking for emerging talent, innovative approaches and writing from outside the mainstream, and they are especially keen to read entries from those who have not previously had work published by major media organisations. They are also, as William Boyd commented while judging the 2012 entries, looking for 'some Burgessian fizz and crackle and a bit of well-displayed erudition.'

More about Burgess’s journalism is here, and in the Guardian here.

You can read pieces by the 2012 winner, Shaun Lyon, here and the 2012 runner-up, James Cahill, here and pieces by the 2013 winner, Roger Lewis here and the 2013 runner-up, Michael Perrett, here.

The title of journalist is probably very noble, but I lay no real claim to it. I am, I think, a novelist and a musical composer manqué: I make no other pretensions… - Anthony Burgess