Chair of the judging panel, Allison Pearson is an international bestselling author and journalist. Her first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was translated into 32 languages and sold four million copies. Oprah Winfrey called it, “a Bible for the working mother”. Allison won Newcomer of the Year at The British Book awards. Allison’s highly praised second novel, I Think I Love You, was set in her native South Wales. In 2018, she published, How Hard Can It Be, the story of a woman navigating menopause and a re-entry to the jobs market. The sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does, HHCIB is currently in development as an American TV series. Allison is a weekly columnist for the The Daily Telegraph and co-presenter of the Planet Normal podcast. She began her journalistic career as a TV critic for The Independent and has won numerous awards including Critic of the Year and Interviewer of the Year. Allison lives in Cambridge with her family and is passionate about the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize and the amazing opportunities it has afforded so many unpublished women writers.
Tim Bates is the Head of the Books Department & Literary Agent at Peters Fraser and Dunlop. He joined PFD after being an agent with Pollinger Limited for nearly 10 years. Before becoming an agent, he worked in various positions in publishing, including at Penguin Books, where he was Commissioning Editor for Penguin Classics. Tim represents a wide range of authors and is particularly interested in pop culture, narrative and serious non-fiction, food-writing, nature and the outdoors, sport and commercial non-fiction, and fiction of all forms.
We are delighted that Jackie Ashley will join the judging panel again this year. Jackie is Chair of the National Brain Appeal and a trustee of the Carers Trust. She was Lucy Cavendish College’s 8th President (2015-2018).
She is also a specialist adviser to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, a member of the Royal Television Society news and current affairs awards committee and sits on two committees at the Biomedical Research Council at University College Hospital London (UCLH). Jackie spent more than 30 years as a journalist and broadcaster and her roles have included columnist with the Guardian, Political Editor at the New Statesman, newsreader on Newsnight, political correspondent with ITN, Channel 4 politics producer, presenter of several political programmes on BBC2 and ITV, and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Week in Westminster’. Alongside her career, Jackie has campaigned on issues like equal pay, carers' rights and the NHS.
Sophie Hannah will return to the judging panel this year. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of crime fiction, published in 49 languages and 51 countries. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie published a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than fifteen countries. She has since published three more bestselling Poirot novels: Closed Casket, The Mystery of Three Quarters and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill. In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. She has also published two short story collections and five collections of poetry – the fifth of which, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A Level and degree level across the UK. Most recently, she has published a self-help book called How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life and launched the How To Hold a Grudge Podcast. Sophie is co-creator and course director of the University of Cambridge's new Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing, and the founder of the DREAM AUTHOR coaching programme for writers. She lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College. You can find her website here.
Gillian Stern will return to the judging panel this year. She is an editor of literary and commercial fiction, who after 15 years of commissioning books in the social sciences, discovered a debut novel that went on to win the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Richard and Judy Summer Reads of Summer Reads. Passionate about fiction and experienced in spotting and editing bestsellers, Gillian is also a successful ghostwriter, having written ten memoirs to date. She works on a freelance basis as a structural editor for several publishers including Bloomsbury, Orion, Hodder and Penguin and critiques and edits for many leading literary agencies including Curtis Brown, Conville & Walsh, PFD, RCW and Aitken Alexander. She also mentors writers sent to her by agents, publishers and word-of-mouth recommendations and often goes on to place debut, or unrepresented, authors with agents.
Dr Lindsey Traub returns to the judging panel in 2021. She is an Emeritus Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, having previously been both College Lecturer in English and Vice-President. Addicted to fiction since childhood, she has spent her working life thinking, talking and writing about it – with a particular interest in 19th Century American women writers who penned the very first ‘bestsellers’.
Dr Isobel Maddison is a Fellow Emerita of Lucy Cavendish College where she was College Lecturer and Director of Studies in English (2007-2021), as well being Vice-President from 2013-2019. She has published widely on writers including Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Richardson, George Bernard Shaw, Max Beerbohm, Eric Ambler and Agatha Christie. She works primarily on the connections between modernism and popular literature and has spent many years researching and writing about Elizabeth von Arnim, an author of best-selling fiction and a frequent Book-of-the-Month choice in her heyday. Isobel was President of the International Elizabeth von Arnim Society from 2015-2019 and remains a member of the society’s steering group as von Arnim's work comes into prominence once again.
Ansa Khan Khattak is a Commissioning Editor at Picador, publishing both literary fiction and narrative non-fiction.
Her authors include Dima Alzayat, Lana Bastašić, Lucia Berlin, Wendy Erskine, Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Neema Shah, Mary South, and Éric Vuillard.
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