V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize

The V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize is an annual award for unpublished short stories between 2000 to 4000 words in length. The winner will receive £1,000 and their entry will be published in Prospect magazine and the RSL Review.

The 2024 Prize

We are now taking entries for the 2024 V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize. This Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year was founded by the RSL at the beginning of the new millennium to commemorate the centenary of an author widely regarded as the finest English short-story writer of the 20th century, and to preserve a tradition encompassing Pritchett’s warmth of feeling and mastery of narrative.

The author of the winning entry will be awarded a prize of £1,000 and have their story published in Prospect online and in the RSL Review. We are grateful to ALCS for their support of the Prize.

This year’s judges are Julia Armfield, Fred D’Aguiar and Juliet Jacques.

The closing date for entries to the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize is Friday 1 September 2023 at 5pm (BST). Submissions will only be accepted via the online form and cost £7.50 per story. Please read the eligibility and guidelines prior to submitting.

Submissions are currently temporarily closed for maintenance, pending an update to the RSL website. We apologise for the inconvenience, but please check back again soon to participate in our V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize.

 

Entries for low-income writers

The RSL is committed to increasing accessibility and supporting writers of all incomes. As such, we are offering a number of free entries to low-income writers based in the UK only.

To apply for a free entry to this year’s prize please e-mail Laura Sibbald using the subject ‘Free VSP Entry Application’ and in the body of the email include your name, postcode and one line on why you are eligible for a free entry, such as being in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Benefit, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, or a full-time student or carer. All details will be kept in the strictest confidence and have no bearing on your Prize entry.

Applicants have until 5pm on Friday 18 August to apply for a free entry. However, we recommend applying earlier as these entries are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be informed by email as to whether you have been accepted and then given instructions on how to enter. Please do not send your story to us prior to this. Successful applicants will have until 5pm on Friday 1 September (the same as the general entry deadline) to submit their story to the competition.

Please note, if successful you can only submit one free entry into the competition. Additional stories will need to submitted via the general submission form (£7.50 per entry)

 

Due to changes in schedule, there is no 2023 Prize

 

The 2022 Prize

The winner of the 2022 prize is Kaliane Bradley’s ‘Doggerland’:

‘I am so thrilled and overwhelmed to have won the V.S. Pritchett short story prize. Sometimes writing a short story can feel like a silly business – voluntarily deranging yourself for several hours to play with an idea you had until it bursts into bloom or rolls over and dies – so being read as perceptively and generously as I was by the judges, and knowing that something a bit narratively elusive can successfully make space for the reader, is really just such a pleasure.’ – Kaliane Bradley

Read ‘Doggerland’ on the Prospect Magazine website.

The 2022 judges were Jenn Ashworth, Cynan Jones and Emma Paterson.


The shortlist for the 2022 prize included:

  • Kaliane Bradley – ‘Doggerland’ 
  • Jeremy Galgut – ‘My Son Is Floating Through Spain’ 
  • Katie Hale – ‘Wast Water, or The Deepest Love in England’ 
  • Chris Kohler – ‘E Is For’ 
  • Martin Raymond – ‘Messengers at Arms’ 
  • Ruskin Smith – ‘Oddjobbing’ 

Videos featuring the writers reading excerpts of their stories can be found on our Twitter.

The longlist for the 2022 prize included:

  • Kaliane Bradley – ‘Doggerland’
  • Gary Evans – ‘THE MILK’
  • Jeremy Galgut – ‘My Son Is Floating Through Spain’
  • Katie Hale – ‘Wast Water, or The Deepest Love in England’
  • Chris Kohler – ‘E Is For’
  • Toby Litt – ‘What Have You Done? What Have You Done?’
  • Martin Raymond – ‘Messengers at Arms’
  • Bethan Roberts – ‘The Living’
  • Ruskin Smith – ‘Oddjobbing’
  • S.Y. Tam – ‘The Sparrows’
  • Phoebe Walker – ‘Only busier from here’

History of Prize

‘I think I really wanted to be a short-story writer because I thought I was a man of short breath. I haven’t got the breath to write novels.’ – V.S. Pritchett, Interview with The Paris Review

Although he wrote across many literary genres including novels and critical essays, V.S. Pritchett is most widely regarded for his short stories. Inspired by the Irish writers Sean O’Faolin, Liam O’Flaherty and Frank O’Connor, Pritchett’s writings are a mastery of narrative and detail, combining reality with the surreal to connect his readers with his colourful characters. Beginning with a collection titled The Spanish Virgin and Other Stories which he wrote during his time in Spain, the author continued to write short stories such as ‘You Make Your Own Life’ and ‘Careless Widow’, amongst others, until his death in 1997.

The RSL founded the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize at the turn of the century – 100 years after the birth of the writer – to commemorate and continue the literary legacy of the English author.

We are grateful to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) for their support of the Prize.


Past recipients (click the links to read the story on Prospect Magazine)

2022 Kaliane Bradley Doggerland
2021 Leeor Ohayon Gahnun on Shabbat
2020 Kate Lockwood Jefford Picasso’s Face
2019 Ursula Brunetti Beetleboy
2018 Emily Ruth Ford Please Be Good to Me
2017 Emily Ruth Ford The Hikers
2016 Fiona Marshall The Street of Baths
2015 Jonathan Tel The Seduction of a Provincial  Accountant
2014 Alice Jolly Ray the Rottweiler
2013 Peter Adamson Sahel
2012 Martina Devlin Singing Dumb
2011 Carys Davies The Redemption of Galen Pike
2010 Michael Newton The Premises
2009 Kate Clanchy The Not-Dead and the Saved
2008 Cynthia Rogerson ‘A Dangerous Place’
2007 Gabriela Blandy ‘The Buck’
2006 Henry Peplow ‘Master Sunny’
2005 Jonathan Haylett ‘Bendera Beach’
2004 Ed Siegle ‘Nine Lives, One Life’
2003 Cherise Saywell ‘Beef Queen’
2001 Simon Korner ‘Falling’
2000 Emma Barklamb ‘No and Yes’
1999 John Arden ‘The Stealing Steps’