The Laurie Lee Prize for Writing

Stroud Book Festival is delighted to host the third year of the Laurie Lee Prize for Writing (2024)


About the Laurie Lee Prize for Writing

The prize has been created by Gloucestershire novelist Katie Fforde in association with Stroud Book Festival and with the blessing of Laurie Lee’s family to acknowledge and honour the work of Laurie Lee (1914–97). A resident of Slad, Laurie Lee was a poet and the author of Cider with Rosie and other autobiographical works. His works stand as a testament to the beauty of the valleys around Stroud and the creativity they continue to inspire.

The judges will present the following prizes:

£1,000 to the author (aged 21+) of the winning entry
£500 / £300 / £200 to the winner and runners-up in a young person’s category (16–20 years)

The competition is open to anyone who has not previously published a full-length work, and who currently lives full time in Gloucestershire or was born there. To enter, you must submit up to 1,500 words maximum of fiction or non-fiction, or up to 125 lines of poetry, on a nature or conservation theme (urban or rural). This can be:

  • An essay
  • A short story
  • An extract from a memoir
  • A piece of travel writing
  • An extract from a novel
  • Poetry


Entering the 2024 Prize

The entry period for the 2024 Prize will be 2 April until 31 July.

Rules regarding the length of entries have been modified this year, as follows:

  • Prose entries must be a maximum of 1,500 words.
  • Poetry entries must comprise no more than 125 lines across a maximum of five poems. We want to see a range of the entrants’ work, so any single poem entries of less than 70 lines will be disqualified. An ideal entry would consist of three to five short poems or one or two long poems. Titles and verse breaks do not count towards the line total.

Click here for all competition rules


The 2024 Judges

The judges of the 2024 Prize are Katie Fforde (chair), Jessy Lee (Laurie Lee’s daughter), Norah Perkins (Laurie Lee’s literary agent), and Gloucestershire writers Jane Bailey, Jamila Gavin and Adam Horovitz.

Here are some comments from them about what they’re looking for in this year’s fiction entries:

Jessy Lee: Laurie Lee was one of those exceptional writers whose poetry and prose seemed to flow into one another seamlessly. He wrote about the landscape around him and his emotional landscape, and both were intrinsically linked for him. I would love to see writing that is perhaps influenced by but not like his – your original experience is what I’d love to see, in your own words and in your own way.

Norah Perkins: I’d love to read stories of where our lives – complex, modern, messy – intersect with the natural world, and of work that depends on the land. I’d like to read about how the landscapes we live and work in have shaped us, whether that landscape is rural or urban, amid farms or factories or houses or hills, and about how the natural world can break into our daily lives in unexpected ways.

Jamila Gavin: We live in a landscape; both an inner landscape and an outer one. We all interpret our landscapes in one way or another, and all our life choices are narratives as, like all stories, our own lives have a beginning, a middle and an end. Put in creativity – and we have the person: the communicator, the biographer, the aspiring writer, the poet.

Jane Bailey: What I love about Laurie Lee’s writing is how it makes us feel, the deep connection it can create with another human being. With a short piece of writing there may be only the possibility of a raw moment: a sudden collision or discovery or act of kindness. Landscape has an important impact on how we experience things, reflecting our feelings, or maybe putting obstacles in our way. But it’s that gut-punch of emotion – so skilfully conjured up by Laurie Lee – that always does it for me in the end.

Listen to Katie Fforde’s video below for her comments on non-fiction entries, and to Adam Horovitz’s to hear what he's looking for in the poetry entries.

About Laurie Lee

Laurie Lee was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 1914, and was educated at Slad village school and Stroud Central School. At the age of 19 he walked to London and then travelled on foot through Spain, as described in his book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. In 1950 he married Katherine Polge and they had one daughter, Jessy. His bestselling Cider with Rosie (1959) has sold over six million copies worldwide, and was followed by two other volumes of autobiography: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). Laurie Lee also published four collections of poems, The Sun My Monument (1944), The Bloom of Candles: Verse from a Poet's Year (1947), My Many-coated Man (1955) and Pocket Poems (1960), as well as A Rose for Winter (1955), The Firstborn (1964), I Can’t Stay Long (1975), and Two Women (1983). Village Christmas, an anthology of uncollected essays, was published posthumously. And Collected Poems, which gathers his much-loved poetry in one volume for the first time, was published in 2023. Laurie Lee died in May 1997 and is buried in Slad village graveyard.

© The Estate of Laurie Lee
© The Estate of Laurie Lee