The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize was established in 1942 by Jane Oliver in commemoration of her husband John Llewellyn Rhys, a young writer and pilot killed at the beginning of World War II. It is awarded to the best English language work of literature, fiction or non-fiction, written by a British or Commonwealth writer under the age of 35 and published in the United Kingdom. The winner receives £5,000 and the five shortlisted runners-up each receive £500. Previous winners are not eligible.

It was at one time known as the "Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize" thanks to the sponsorship of that newspaper. In 2002 the prize was initally awarded to Hari Kunzru for The Impressionist but he declined to accept it due to what he alleged was the Mail on Sunday's consistent "hostility towards black and Asian British people". The judges awarded the prize to one of the other shortlisted works and the Mail on Sunday withdrew its sponsorship following the award of the 2003 prize.

The 2005 winner was announced on the 6th December 2006 as the twenty-three year old Uzodinma Iweala for his Beasts of No Nation. Iweala is from Nigeria where his mother is the current finance minister.

Winners of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize

There were joint winners in 1962 and 1975, and no award was made in either 1952 nor 1976.


The most recent winners of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize are:

2006/7 - Sarah Hall for The Carhullan Army (Faber and Faber) - Booktrust decided to bring the prize up to date by merging two years, so from here on the prize will be for any book published during the calendar year (i.e. books published between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2008 were eligible for the 2008 prize).

2008 - Henry Hitchings for The Secret Life of Words (John Murray)

2009 prize will be announced 30 November at an event in Central London.  The 2009 judges are Louise Doughty (Chair), Stephen Knight and Joanna Kavenna.


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