The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

Anthony Burgess

£2000 Prize

* The 2013 Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism closed on 15 October 2013 and entries are no longer being accepted. The judges will contact the shortlisted writers by 25 January 2014 and the prize will be awarded on 20 February 2014. *


  • 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

  • the prize will be judged by a panel chaired by Jonathan Meades, and including Robert McCrum from the Observer and Dr Andrew Biswell from the Burgess Foundation
  • the word limit is 1500 words
  • the entry fee is £10
  • the winner will be announced at a prizegiving ceremony in London in February 2014
  • the full terms and conditions are here

in association with The Observer

Beyond his prolific career as a novelist and composer, Anthony Burgess was an energetic journalist. In his lifetime he published two substantial collections of journalism, Urgent Copy (1968) and Homage to Qwert Yuiop (1986). 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.

Established in 2012, the purpose of the prize is to encourage promising new arts journalists. The prize will be for the best writing on brand new work in the arts which has not previously been published, whether in print or on the internet. The winning essay might take the form of an interview or profile of a writer, artist or musician; a piece on a new artistic movement or venture; or a review of a book, film, a concert, a ballet or a stage play.

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.