The Burgess Prize

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

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Work by previous winners:

Need some inspiration?

The Observer / Burgess prize has awarded nearly £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, Euripides at the National Theatre, Justin Bieber on tour, books about Bela Lugosi – and many more.

Shahidha Bari is a previous Prize winner and judged the prize for us herself 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, whilst 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: and be inspired to write your own.

Here are some highlights.