Fiona Mozley scoops Polari First Book Prize for Elmet

Prize announces extended tour with new locations as it celebrates record year

Yorkshire-based writer, Fiona Mozley, has tonight been awarded the Polari First Book Prize 2018 for her Man Booker-shortlisted debut, Elmet (John Murray).

Announced at a ceremony at London’s Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival, Mozley’s win comes during a record year for the prize which saw submissions quadruple, with significant uplift in entries from major publishers.

Now in its eighth year, the Prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.

Other titles shortlisted for the 2018 award include: Trans Mission by Alex Bertie (Wren & Rook), Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day (Tinder Press), Pansy Boy by Paul Harfleet (Barbican Press), Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon (HQ), and Little Gold by Allie Rogers (Legend Press).

Commenting on the announcement, prize founder and chair of the judges Paul Burston, said: “Strange, extraordinary and unique, Fiona Mozley’s story has a lyrical, ethereal quality and the feel of an old folk tale. Sometimes brutal but often beautiful, the novel expertly weaves together themes of ownership, greed and masculinity, pitching the gentle narrator Daniel against the brutality of his father. It’s a remarkable achievement and the judges were united in their admiration for it.”

Judges for the 2018 prize are author, journalist and chair of the judges Paul Burston; author and former Head of Literature & Spoken Word at Southbank Centre, Rachel Holmes; author, performer and writing coach Karen McLeod; author and comedian, VG Lee; and playwright, actor and producer, Alexis Gregory.

Reflecting the growth and scope of the prize, founder Paul Burston also announced an extended Polari Prize Tour starting in November and running until October next year. The 20-date tour, funded by Arts Council England, will showcase the best emerging and established LGBT+ authors, poets and spoken word performers, reaching new destinations and LGBT+ scene spaces where people rarely engage with the arts. New locations for 2019 include Belfast, Milton Keynes, Morecambe and Mallorca, with a centrepiece event at Heaven, the UK’s most famous gay club which turns 40 in 2019.

Commenting on the tour announcement, founder of the Polari Salon and First Book Prize, Paul Burston, said: “For the past eleven years, Polari has played a unique role in supporting both new and established LGBT+ writers and spoken word performers. On this tour we will offer further support to many of the writers we’ve discovered over the years and provide opportunities for new writers to join the ‘Polari family’. The tour will include writing and performance workshops where we will work with emerging writers to hone their skills and provide opportunities for them to showcase their work.”

Polari First Book Prize partners with WH Smiths Travel, with shortlisted books displayed in Travel outlets nationwide. The Prize is sponsored by award-winning arts communications company FMcM Associates.

For all media enquiries please contact Ashton Bainbridge at FMcM Associates on 0207 405 7422 or email


About the Polari First Book Prize

  • The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011 and previous winners include Paul McVeigh, Kirsty Logan, Diriye Osman, James Maker, Mari Hannah, Saleem Haddad and John McCullough.

  • The Polari First Book Prize accepts books published in English by a writer born or resident in the UK and Ireland. Books must have been published in the 12 months up to 1 February 2018. Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible.

  • Polari First Book Prize partners with WH Smith Travel, with shortlisted books displayed in Travel outlets nationwide.

  • The Prize is sponsored by FMcM Associates, an award-winning arts communications company.

About Polari Literary Salon

  • Polari Literary Salon began in 2007 in the upstairs room of a bar in Soho. Events are now held monthly at the Southbank Centre and regularly sell out.

  • In 2013, Polari was named ‘LGBT Cultural Event of the Year’ in the Co-op Respect Loved By You Awards.

  • The Polari 2019 tour launches Monday 26th November at Southbank Centre, running until October 2019.

About Paul Burston

Paul Burston is journalist, author and founder of the Polari Literary Salon and Polari First Book Prize. A founding editor of Attitude magazine, he has written for many publications including the Guardian, Time Out, The Times and The Sunday Times. He is the author of three books including Lovers and Losers, shortlisted for the Stonewall Award. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating 33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world. His new novel The Closer You Get will be published in 2019 as part of a two book deal with Orenda Books.

For all media enquiries please contact Ashton Bainbridge at FMcM Associates on 0207 405 7422 or email