We believe strongly that the best non-fiction isn’t confined by category – as our history shows. Alexander von Humboldt’s Personal Narrative of his five years exploring South America came out in 1814; it was a major influence on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and his seminal Origin of Species (1859) and both inspired Andrea Wulf to write her multiple prize-winning The Invention of Nature (2015). John Murray are immensely proud to have been the publisher of all three, very different books across over two centuries.
We may be Britain’s oldest publisher but we are always looking for new writers and fresh ideas. Our current list include critically acclaimed and bestselling books as diverse as Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking and Randall Munroe’s What If? We know the best non-fiction challenges you to think again about everything. And with this prize we are looking for truly original writing that will stand the test of time.
The prize will be officially launched on 2nd January 2018.
How to Enter
Write an essay on the theme of ORIGIN.
Tell us about a beginning or a discovery of any kind. Explain an idea, a movement or a species. Take us across the world, into outer space or deep into the past. Explore your passion, discipline or background. Surprise us.
What you write about and how you write about it – whether it’s in the form of history, science, literature, nature, travel or memoir – is up to you.
Our judges are Andrea Wulf, Sumit Paul-Choudury (editor in chief of New Scientist), Amanda Vickery (professor of history at Queen Mary), Sam Leith (literary editor of The Spectator) and Stig Abell (editor of the TLS).
We are looking for (1) an original, insightful and lively piece of non-fiction writing of no more than 4000 words that offers an unexpected view of an origin of your choice. And (2) a separate outline/description of how this essay could become a book.
Deadline for submissions is 1st May 2018 (midnight GMT).
You can submit your essay to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The overall winner will be announced on our actual anniversary in October.
For the winner:
- A £20,000 book contract with John Murray and mentoring sessions with our publisher
- Their winning essay published both in The Spectator and in a special anniversary anthology
- An invitation to our anniversary party
For the runners-up:
- Their winning essay published in an elegant anthology
- A selection of books from John Murray
Click here for full terms and conditions.