The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, founded 68 years ago in honour of the writer John Llewellyn Rhys, who was killed in action in World War II, is open to British and Commonwealth writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, aged 35 or under, at the time of publication. The prize is worth £5,000 to the winner, with the other shortlisted authors receiving £500 each.

The winner is Amy Sackville for The Still Point

Amy Sackville has walked away with the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her debut novel The Still Point.

Like Evie Wyld, who won the award last year for After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, Amy Sackville is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Still Point is part Arctic adventure, part haunting love story. When Edward Mackley vanishes during a doomed attempt to reach the North Pole at the turn of the twentieth century, he leaves behind a young wife, Emily. She stoically awaits his return for 60 years, sacrificing her own dreams as she preserves Edward's memory.

A hundred years later, on a hot summer day, Emily's great-grand-niece Julia makes her own exploration through the family house she has inherited a virtual memorial to Edward. As Julia trawls through Edwardís diary she sinks into depression and towards an old family secret that forces her to reassess her own relationship and desires.  

Click here to read an exclusive interview with Amy

Critics have hailed Sackville's 'beautifully restrained prose' and the 'startling originality of her voice'.

Claire Allfree, chair of judges said: 'We are thrilled that Amy Sackville has won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize this year with her debut novel The Still Point. Her ambitious, beautifully constructed book encapsulates all the qualities of a young, emerging writer that the Prize seeks to celebrate: it has a huge imaginative scope, it tells its story in unexpected, subtle ways and her use of language took our breath away. She is a writer of seemingly limitless promise and, amid some tough competition, a thoroughly deserving winner.'

Fellow judge Bidisha commented: 'The Still Point is a work of art and a statement of the seriousness, intelligence, craft and imagination of its young author. It's astonishing that such a poised and deep work should be a first novel but there it is. We felt that, from this breathtaking starting point, Sackville could go successfully in any direction she likes, so assured is her voice and so limitless her vision. This is why, in the decades to come, when she has won dozens of other awards internationally, we want people to say, "You know the John Llewellyn Rhys people spotted her first."'

Shortlist announced

This year’s shortlist spotlights six remarkably varied voices, comprising two works of non-fiction, a poetry collection and three novels. 

The three debut books in the shortlist all feature epic journeys into personal history: to the Arctic, across Africa by foot and through the skies above Europe.

The shortlist is:

Daniel Swift’s Bomber County is an account of the author’s research into the life of his grandfather – an RAF pilot shot down during the World War II. It is also an examination of the links between that campaign of destruction and the poetry that it inspired. Nadifa Mohamed’s Black Mamba Boy was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction earlier this year. It too has the World War II as its backdrop, telling the story of one boy’s journey from his home town across Africa and beyond in search of his father. In Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point (also longlisted for the Orange Prize) a doomed arctic expedition set at the turn of the twentieth century intertwines with the unwinding of a relationship set a hundred years later.     

Kei Miller’s new collection of poetry, A Light Song of Light, grapples with the recent economic recession, family tragedy and how to continue making art in dark times. Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine is a vehement rebuttal of the use of pseudo-science to reinforce the sexual divide. Susan Fletcher’s novel Corrag is the story of a devastating historic event – the Massacre of Glencoe – featuring an extraordinary central character.   

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at Century Club, London, on Tuesday 23 November. The winning author receives a cheque for £5,000 while the other shortlisted authors receive £500 each.

Chair of Judges Claire Allfree commented:

‘We’re very proud that the books on this year’s list are so thought-provoking, imaginative and diverse. The range of voices across the list is truly invigorating - from an epic lyrical novel set in 17th-century Scotland to poetry from Jamaica and a creative piece of non-fiction that combines personal history with some fascinating literary criticism. We’re particularly pleased to have two debut novelists, with two very differently flavoured novels that range in setting between Africa in the 1930s and the 19th-century Arctic and the present day. And we’re also delighted to shortlist a ground breaking work of science that combines popular appeal with polemical argument. Together the books provide an excellent snapshot of the ambition and originality of today’s best new writers. Choosing a winner will be a daunting task.’

Click here to download a press release about the shortlist (.pdf 45Kb)


Claire Allfree, literary editor of Metro, is the chair of an illustrious panel of judges for this year’s John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.

Claire heads up a panel which includes critic and broadcaster Bidisha and poet Maura Dooley to judge the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry or drama) by a UK or Commonwealth writer aged 35 years or under.
Download the press release about the 2010 judges here (Adobe Acrobat 56.6 KB)

About the Prize

The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize is one of Britain's oldest and most prestigious literary awards, and is unequalled in its reputation for singling out fine young writers - from biographers, novelists and historians to travel writers, dramatists and poets - early on in their careers. The prize is administered as part of Booktrust’s portfolio of literary prizes. Past winners include William Boyd in 1982, Jeanette Winterson in 1987, Jonathan Coe in 1994, Nicola Barker in 1996 and Charlotte Mendelson in 2003. Last year's winner was Evie Wyld for her sensational debut novel After the Fire, a Still Small Voice.

Click here to read more about last year's prize


> Entries can be any work of literature written by a British or Commonwealth national aged 35 or under at the time of publication. It is the responsibility of the publisher to ascertain this information before entering the book.

> Books must be first written in English (translations are not eligible), and published in the UK, by a UK publisher (self-published titles cannot be considered), between 1 January and 31 December 2010.

> Publishers can enter up to five books per publisher/bona fide imprint, but please ensure all entries are of a standard befitting the prize.

> Any decision on eligibility by the administrator is final.

Click here to download the 2010 entry form for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (Word .doc 100Kb)

For further information please contact: Claire Shanahan, Booktrust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London SW18 2QZ 

Tel: 020 8516 2973 (D/L) Fax: 020 8516 2978