The Burgess Prize

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

in this section

Previous winners:

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The Observer / Burgess prize has awarded £20,000 to emerging writers seeking to make their way in journalism.

Subjects of the winning essays have included the Last Night of the Proms, Ru-Paul’s Drag Race, Shostakovich at the Royal Opera House, the television drama Waterloo Road, a production of Euripides at the National Theatre, Justin Bieber on tour, and a book about Bela Lugosi.

Shahidha Bari, a previous prize-winner, was on the judging panel in 2019. She writes:

The actual Observer Anthony Burgess Arts Journalism prize is an elegant thing of modernist beauty — a clear Perspex block, small and neat, stamped with the picture of a stylish black typewriter. It is, charmingly, modelled after an arts journalism prize once won by Burgess himself.

Since winning the competition in 2014, I’ve rarely had time to stray from the ‘typewriter’, regularly contributing to a range of newspapers and periodicals, including the TLS, the Guardian and the Financial Times, while also reviewing arts for BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3. The Burgess Prize encouraged me to have confidence in my judgment and challenged me to find ways to articulate it precisely and persuasively.

I’m immensely grateful to have been associated with the foundation and with Burgess’s legacy, which encourages us all to keep rattling away at the typewriter in the hopes of writing something worthwhile. [Read the full article here]

Visit the archive at the Observer website to read entries by previous winners.

Here are some highlights.

Previous winners and runners-up

Winner: En Liang Khong
Runner-up: Luke Hallam
Runner-up: Cerise Louisa Andrews

Winner: Calum Jacobs
Runner-up: Laura de Lisle
Runner-up: Ian Cowmeadow

Winner: Harry Strawson
Runner-up: Rachel Pronger
Runner-up: James Waddell

Winner: Lucy Holt
Runner-up: Paul Bahrami
Runner-up: Poppy Wood

Winner: Jason Watkins
Runner-up: Kate Wyver
Runner-up: Tara McEvoy

Winner: Felicity James
Runner-up: Rennie McDougall
Runner-up: Debi Cornwall

Winner: Susan Sheahan
Runner-up: Giles Masters
Runner-up: Liam O’Brien

Winner: Leah Broad
Runner-up: Iris Veysey
Runner-up: Ed Cripps

Winner: Shahidha Bari
Runner-up: Christopher Hyland
Runner-up: Liam O’Brien

Winner: Roger Lewis
Runner-up: Michael Perrett
Runner-up: Duncan Hamilton

Winner: Shaun Lyon
Runner-up: James Cahill