BBC National Short Story Award

The largest award for a single short story in the world. £15,000 for the winning story, £3,000 for the runner-up and £500 for the three other shortlisted stories.


In 2005, the National Short Story Prize was launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to re-establish the importance of the British story after many years of neglect. Funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and supported by BBC Radio 4 and Prospect magazine, the prize (£15,000 to the winner) became the largest award in the world for a single short story.

The first winner, announced in 2006, was James Lasdun for his story 'An Anxious Man'.

In 2007, Julian Gough won the prize for his story 'The Orphan and the Mob'.

In 2008, Clare Wigfall won the Award for her story, ‘Numbers’, which appeared in her debut collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing.

For 2008, the prize was renamed the BBC National Short Story Award to reflect the fact that the BBC is now the sponsor.

2009 BBC National Short Story Award

The winner of the BBC National Short Story Award 2009 has been announced.

Winner: 'The Not-Dead and the Saved' by Kate Clanchy
Runner-up: 'Moss Witch' by Sara Maitland

Kate Clanchy, who has worked primarily as a teacher and as Poet in Residence for the Red Cross, beat an exceptional shortlist which included past Orange Prize winners Lionel Shriver and Naomi Alderman, and BAFTA-nominated author Jane Rogers.

The story, entitled 'The Not-Dead and The Saved' is a haunting story of parental love and sacrifice set in a hospital ward. The story of a mother and child, whose relationship is conducted against a background of hospital visits, transplants and tumours, was praised by the judges for its rich lyricism and deeply affecting style.

Clanchy received her winner’s cheque of £15,000 at a ceremony this evening (Monday 7 December) at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon. The winner was announced and interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (7.15pm).

Sara Maitland, who was shortlisted for her story Moss Witch, was awarded £3,000 as runner-up. Sara is a distinguished short-story author who has had six collections published.

Each of the other shortlisted authors was awarded £500.

This year's panel of judges was: singer-songwriter Will Young, broadcaster and journalist Tom Sutcliffe (chair), author Dame Margaret Drabble, Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and BBC Radio 4’s Editor Di Speirs.  

The deadline for entries was 5pm on 15 June 2009

Download the entry form (Microsoft Word .doc 38Kb)

Download the terms and conditions of entry (Microsoft Word .doc 52Kb)

Read the press release about the launch of the 2009 Award (Microsoft Word .doc )

2008 BBC National Short Story Award

Clare Wigfall won the 2008 BBC National Short Story Award, with Jane Gardam the runner-up.

The three other authors on the shortlist were Richard Beard, Erin Soros and Adam Thorpe.

The judges for the 2008 Award were Martha Kearney (Chair), Naomi Alderman, Alex Linklater, Penelope Lively, and Di Speirs.

Find out more about the 2008 Award

2007 National Short Story Prize

Julian Gough won the 2007 National Short Story Prize, for ‘The Orphan and the Mob’ with David Almond named as runner-up for his story ‘Slog’s Dad’.

The three remaining authors on the shortlist were Jonathan Falla, Jackie Kay and Hanif Kureishi.

The judges for the 2007 prize were Mark Lawson (Chair), Monica Ali, AS Byatt, Di Speirs and Alex Linklater.

Winner 2007 press release (Microsoft Word .doc format 46Kb)

Read the 2007 shortlist press release (Microsoft Word .doc format 47Kb)

Read what three of the shortlisted authors think about short stories:

> Read Jackie Kay's thoughts

> Read Julian Gough's thoughts

> Read Jonathan Falla's thoughts

The inclusion on the shortlist of Hanif Kureishi's story, 'Weddings and Beheadings' aroused some controversy. Mark Lawson, Chair of judges, issued this statement:

'The judges regarded Hanif Kureishi's story as a serious treatment of a new and horrific phenomenon. Some people will feel that sensitive and controversial material should never be the subject for fiction; we felt that the question to be asked is whether the writer is simply operating shock tactics or using fiction to explore events which are to most people unimaginable. For us, the story does the latter and deserved its place on a shortlist of five.

'We did not believe that Kureishi intended any recognisable reference to any single actual incident in the Middle East, or that one can be read into the story. It's perhaps also important to say that the story was written, first published and initially judged before the disappearance of Alan Johnston.'

Nevertheless, BBC Radio 4 chose not to broadcast Hanif Kureishi's story as a courtesy to the journalist's family.

> Read Mark Lawson on sentimental censorship in the Guardian

2006 National Short Story Prize

James Lasdun won the 2006 National Short Story Prize for his short story An Anxious Man. The runner-up was Michel Faber for his short story, ‘The Safehouse’.

The other shortlisted writers were Rana Dasgupta, Rose Tremain and William Trevor.

The judges for the inaugural Prize were William Boyd, Lavinia Greenlaw, Alex Linklater, Di Speirs and Francine Stock.

Read all the stories shortlisted for the 2006 prize

Read an interview with James Lasdun

The winner was announced on 15 May 2006
Press release (Microsoft Word .doc format 41Kb)

The shortlisted authors and stories were announced on 3 April 2006
Press release (Microsoft Word .doc format 41Kb)
Author biographies and story précis (Microsoft Word .doc format 31Kb)

The prize was announced on 23 August 2005
Press release (Microsoft Word .doc format 44Kb)
Press release (Adobe Acrobat .pdf format 130Kb)

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Read an article by Di Speirs (Executive Producer Readings BBC Radio 4) about BBC Radio and its work with the short story

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The short story form is better suited to the demands of modern life than the novel.
Simon Prosser Publishing Director Hamish Hamilton

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