The Burgess Prize

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism

in this section

Shortlist and Winners:

‘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

Here are the winners of the 2021 Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts, our annual prize for the best new writing about the arts.

In June last year, we asked for your best reviews, and you did not disappoint. Despite unparalleled disruption to arts and culture, we received more entries than ever and the standard was exceptionally high.

It is now time to announce the winners for the 2021 competition. See below.

The overall winner and two runners-up were announced in an online ceremony on 11 March 2021. The first prize is £3,000 and the winning piece will be published in the print edition of the Observer New Review and online at theguardian.com. Two runners-up will also receive £500 each and have their work published online.


The winners

The winners of the 2021 Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism are:

Runner up:
Rachel Pronger – Promising Young Woman, directed by Emerald Fennell

Runner up:
James Waddell – The Duchess of Malfi at the Almeida Theatre and online

Winner:
Harry Strawson – In My Room (Miu Miu Women’s Tales #20), directed by Mati Diop

A huge thanks to our judges, Miranda Sawyer and Sarah Donaldson at the Observer, and Will Carr at the Burgess Foundation. They enjoyed reading your entries, and congratulations to the winning writers.


The shortlist

For reference, the shortlist was announced in February 2021:

Michael Amherst – One Foot in the Grave, released on BritBox

Milo Nesbitt – Electronic: from Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers at the Design Museum

Emilia Ong – Andy Warhol at Tate Modern

Rachel Pronger – Promising Young Woman, directed by Emerald Fennell

Harry Strawson – In My Room (Miu Miu Women’s Tales #20), directed by Mati Diop

James Waddell – The Duchess of Malfi at the Almeida Theatre and online