The Burgess Prize

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

in this section

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism:


Who can enter?

The Observer / Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism is currently closed to entries. Next year’s competition will be launched in Spring 2021.

This is a review writing competition with a prize fund of £4,000 and a chance to be published in the Observer newspaper.

Every year, we ask you to impress us with your best work. You didn’t disappoint us this year. The judges are deliberating entries. The shortlist will be announced in February 2021, and the winner will be announced at an online awards ceremony in March 2021..

What do I write?

Anthony Burgess wrote for the Observer for more than thirty years, and this prize celebrates his connection with the newspaper. He had a wide range of interests, so there is no restriction on the artform featured in your review.

The winning piece could be about an album, book, concert, exhibition, film, live stream, social media entertainment, or television show, or anything else that offers the opportunity to write a lively and thoughtful piece.

We define “new work” in the arts as anything that has happened since 1st September 2019, although some flexibility with that date is fine. The arts world has changed beyond recognition in recent months, and we expect to see some entries focusing on the online world of lockdown entertainment.

For examples of the kind of thing we would like to see, here are pieces by previous winners; and here are the Culture pages on the Guardian / Observer website.

What's the prize?

You could win a first prize of £3,000 and have your work published in the Observer.

Two runners-up will also receive £500 each.

The most recent judging panel comprised Miranda Sawyer, features writer and radio critic for the Observer, Sarah Donaldson, arts editor of the Observer, and Will Carr, deputy director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and editor of Anthony Burgess’s The Ink Trade: Selected Journalism 1961-1993.

The prizes are presented by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Observer

How do I enter?

Entering the Observer / Burgess Prize is easy.

You can enter via an online form on our entry page. This will ask you to upload your review, and then direct you to Paypal where your entry fee of £10 will be taken.

You can also enter by post, details of which are on our entry page. We also offer a limited number of subsidised entries, information for which is also on the entry page.

We judge the prize anonymously. Please do not write your name or contact details on your review: just fill in your details on the entry form.

You can enter as many times as you wish, as long as entries are paid for. Good luck – and get reviewing!

Article written and ready to go? Jump straight to the entry page

“A model for beginners, and old hacks alike.” New Statesman Read THE INK TRADE, Anthony Burgess’s collection of journalism and essays >