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The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize

The Financial Times and The Bodley Head are proud to announce their fifth annual essay prize launching 12th November 2016

The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize aims to discover global young talent in long-form essay writing.The prize has led to many new and exciting opportunities for winners and runners-up. Hedley Twidle, winner of the very first Bodley Head FT Essay Prize, is now a regular contributor to the FT and other outlets, including the New StatesmanAdnan Sarwar, 2013’s winner, has written widely for press in the UK. Edward Posnett won in 2014 for his essay ‘Eiderdown’ and has his first book, Harvest, due for publication with The Bodley Head in 2017. And last year’s winner, Laurence Blair, has also recently been signed up by The Bodley Head to write his first book, which expands on his 2015 winning essay, ‘Dreams of the Sea’.

This competition is open to anyone between 18-35 years old who would like their work to be read and judged by author Simon Schama, Stuart Williams (Publishing Director, The Bodley Head), Rachel Cugnoni (Publisher, Vintage), Alec Russell, (Editor, FT Weekend), Rebecca Rose (Deputy Literary Editor, FT) and Literary Agent Georgina Capel of Georgina Capel Associates.

Judges will be looking for a dynamic, authoritative and lively essay of no more than 3,500 words. It can be journalistic, a case study, wide-ranging or minutely focused. In keeping with the ethos of both sponsors, it can address any topic – from finance and current affairs to history and scientific discovery. We aren't looking for a particular subject; we're simply looking for quality writing.

Deadline for submissions is 29th January 2017 (midnight GMT).

The winner will receive:

●      £1000 and an e-publication with The Bodley Head

●      A mentoring session with The Bodley Head and Financial Times

●      A subscription to, and a selection of books from The Bodley Head

Two runners up will win:

●      £500 each and an e-publication with The Bodley Head

●      A digital subscription to Weekend FT, and a bag of books from The Bodley Head

You can submit your entry and find out more information at

A brief history of The Bodley Head

The Bodley Head publishes influential and engaging works of non-fiction by some of the leading writers and thinkers of our time, addressing a huge range of subjects: smart thinking, science, reportage, history, maths, biography, music, natural history, current affairs and economics. Our books explore the issues of today; they are books about the ideas, the people, and the human obsessions that shape our world.

We publish authors including Lisa Randall and Misha Glenny, Simon Schama and Karen Armstrong, Wade Davis, Roger Penrose and Timothy Snyder.

Founded originally as an antiquarian bookseller in 1887, The Bodley Head aspired to publish works of ‘stylish decadence’. Over time it would publish writers including George Bernard Shaw, Graham Greene (who was a director), Muriel Spark, William Trevor and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The Bodley Head also famously published Charlie Chaplin’s memoirs, signed after a seven-year courtship of the comic actor. Chaplin was paid half a million dollars, and within three months of publication had sold the same number of copies of his book.

In 1969 The Bodley Head joined forces with Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus, which today remain sister imprints within the VINTAGE division. And in 2008, after a period of dormancy, it was relaunched as a new imprint under the distinguished The Bodley Head name.

Recently, writers as diverse as Stephen Witt, Ian Mortimer, Robert Caro, Edith Hall, Lewis Dartnell and Cédric Villani have joined the list – united by their originality, by their expertise and by their gifts as communicators.

Books published by The Bodley Head include:

Misha Glenny


Nick Clegg


Alison Gopnik

The Gardener and The Carpenter

Ed Yong

I Contain Multitudes

Mark Thompson

Enough Said


Lisa Randall

Dark Matters and the Dinosaurs


Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air

Gideon Rachman


Hitler book cover by Volker Ullrich

Yanis Varoufakis

And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must?

More resources for The Bodley Head

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