The London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme, opens for submissions for the third year today.

Geared towards supporting writers at the start of their careers, the Emerging Writers Programme offers unpublished writers, in all genres, one year’s membership of The London Library (which normally costs £540 per year) alongside writing development masterclasses, literary networking opportunities, peer support and guidance in use of the Library’s resources. 

With its rich cultural heritage, extensive open access book collection, dedicated writing spaces and its diverse community of established writers, the benefits of Library membership are invaluable to early career writers. The Emerging Writers Programme is free to enter and free to participate in, thanks to the generous support The London Library has received from A M Heath Literary Agency, Sir Max Hastings, The International Friends of The London Library and the US Founders Circle, the Julio and Maria Marta Núñez Memorial Fund and other anonymous donors. 

Many of the writers who have already taken part in the programme have benefited from increased awareness for their writing from the publishing industry and to mark the success of this initiative, the Library has published a free-to-download anthology of new writing by past participants. From the Silence of the Stacks, New Voices Rise features work by 35 writers who were part of the first Emerging Writers Programme which ran from 2019-2020.  A limited print run of a physical edition of the Anthology will also be available to purchase direct from The London Library at £8.

In a new development for 2021, The London Library is able to announce that Virago Books has funded The Virago Participation Bursary to support Black women and Black writers from other underrepresented genders to overcome financial barriers that would prevent them from accessing the full Emerging Writers Programme. This could include travel costs, costs associated with childcare or other caring responsibilities and any other costs incurred in order to participate fully in the Programme. Successful applicants who are eligible will be invited to apply for the bursary on acceptance of their place on the Programme. The Virago Participation Bursary will run alongside the Emerging Writers Programme for the next three years.

Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library comments: “The Emerging Writers Programme has proved to be extremely valuable to early career writers by giving them access to the extensive resources and community of The London Library to help them develop their writing talent. We are delighted that Virago Books are supporting us with the Virago Participation Bursary and that AM Heath continue to support the initiative and we look forward to working with our partners, and with all the writers who are selected for the programme this year.”

Sarah Savitt, Publisher at Virago Press says: ‘We at Virago read and supported the Black Writers’ Guild open letter published in June 2020 calling for action against racial inequality within the British publishing industry, and setting up this bursary was one of the ways we decided to respond. We are a feminist publishing company and know that women and other underrepresented genders – particularly if they are also people of colour – often face extra challenges in accessing writing development programmes and we hope this bursary will make a meaningful difference to a group of writers each year. Publishers can’t exist without writers – and readers – and we know that The London Library is a wonderful place for both.’

Sara Wheeler, travel writer, London Library trustee and chair of the judging panel for the Emerging Writers Programme 2021 comments; “Ten non-fiction books in thirty years? I couldn’t have done it without The London Library, an extraordinary resource, indispensable inspiration and warmly congenial home to writers of all persuasions. I remember the challenges of kickstarting a career with a blank page, which is why I am thrilled to support new voices though the impressive Emerging Writers Programme. Now, especially, in a climate of shrinking resources, I am proud to see the London Library offering this opportunity.”

The closing date for applications is 5 March 2021; applications will then be selected anonymously by a panel of judges. The judges for the Emerging Writers Programme 2021 are: Publishing Director at Virago, Abacus and Little, Brown Ailah Ahmed; YA and adult fiction writer Sareeta Domingo; screenwriter and previous EWP participant Karim Flint; Forward Prize-winning poet Will Harris; playwright and screenwriter Alexis Zegerman; novelist and memoirist Tim Lott; agents from A M Heath; and travel writer and London Library trustee Sara Wheeler (chair).