I was honoured to attend the launch of the Comedy Women In Print prize. Helen Lederer aims to address this by introducing a new literary prize that will officially recognise witty female authors and nurture new, unpublished talent.
At the launch today I was over the moon to meet an array of fabulous authors including Angela Jackson , Jenny Colgan, Gill Sims and Jojo Fraser.
From Allison Pearson, Dawn French and Marian Keyes, all the way back to Muriel Spark, Dorothy Parker and Stella Gibbons, we have been devouring female wit on the page for decades. Female comic novelists consistently top the bestseller lists, so why aren’t they celebrated?
The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is the only existing prize for comic fiction. In the 18 years it has been running only 3 women have won. This year they decided to withhold the prize because none of the 62 entries were funny enough. Clearly they are missing something.
Comedian and author Helen Lederer aims to address this by introducing a new literary prize that will officially recognise witty female authors and nurture new, unpublished talent. The Comedy Women in Print Award, or CWIP for short, will celebrate female comedy fiction in all its forms, from the absurd and laugh-out-loud to the dark and razor sharp.
Celebrated novelist, author of I Don’t Know How She Does It, and Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson, is a judge, along with Helen Lederer, Marian Keyes and Jennifer Young – Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. There will be two categories for the prize – published and unpublished. Both winners will be awarded a cash prize and the unpublished winner will be given a place on the Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. The award is sponsored by Pegasus Life. CWIP is also honoured to have the University of Hertfordshire (of which Helen Lederer is an alumna) and The Telegraph as partners, and the support of publishing industry magazine The Bookseller. The award will be launched with a celebration of witty women at the Cabaret Bar, Pleasance Courtyard on the 24th of August at 12pm.
“As soon as I’d written my novel I looked around for prize to win (as you do) and there were none! Then I got excited about doing something to redress the imbalance. Now that CWIP is finally on the literary map – it’s as if it was always meant to be there…funny that ….” Helen Lederer
“Male voices are automatically given extra weight. There are brilliantly funny women writing today, but they are not celebrated as they should be. This prize should change that.“ Marian Keyes
“In The Year of the Woman, The Telegraph is proud to be CWIP’s media partner. We are delighted to support this prize, which could not be more timely, as recent news has shown.”
“It’s really exciting to be a part of something designed to recognise funny women writing brilliant stuff. PegasusLife is delighted to be sponsoring CWIP and we look forward to uncovering some wonderful talent.” PegasusLife
For more details about CWIP go to www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk
Helen Lederer is probably best known as part of London’s Comedy Store comedians, including Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, the late Rik Mayall and Ben Elton, and for her roles in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and the BBC comedy sketch show ‘Naked Video’. Helen’s recent appearance in Celebrity Big Brother led to her trending on Twitter, being saved by the public vote three times and affording her a temporary title of “national treasure”. She is not only a comedian and actor but also a comedy novelist. Her first novel ‘Losing It’, published by Pan Macmillan, was nominated for the PG Wodehouse comedy literary prize. She is currently working on her second novel ’Do the Indecent Thing’. She is a much sought after panellist having appeared on shows such as ‘The News Quiz’, ‘Just a Minute’, ‘Quote…Unquote’, ‘A Good Read’, ‘Open Book’ and ‘Woman’s Hour’. She has also written for Woman&Home, The Independent, The Mail on Sunday, The Express and The Daily Telegraph and is currently the ‘agony aunt’ for Woman’s Weekly.
Helen will be performing two shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe:
I might as well say it’ venue 302 Underbelly 3 -25 August
Helen Lederer Asks WTF?’ Laughing Horse Venue 257 21 -25 August
Helen will be teaching a course on how to write comic fiction with Mavis Cheek at Moniack Mhor in September. www.moniackmhor.org.uk/courses/short-course-comic-writing-mavis-cheek-helen-lederer/
The University of Hertfordshire is proud to be a partner of the Comedy Women in Print (CWIP) Awards, supporting alumna and Honorary Doctorate recipient Helen Lederer. The Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire offers a range of distinctive creative practices and theoretical approaches and includes traditional elements such as writing workshops, intensive tutorial-based supervision and a range of guest speakers. In addition, it explores questions of authority, taste and trust. With up-to-date, relevant skills, understanding and knowledge, graduates of the MA will be prepared for employment in a variety of fields, such as working creatively with organisations, professional writing and other related professions. The MA can be taken as a one-year full-time course or a two-year part-time course. www.herts.ac.uk/courses/ma-creative-writing
Established in 2012, PegasusLife was created to rethink and reinvent the places and ways in which we live as we get older. Over the past century, our population has aged dramatically, yet many of the retirement housing solutions on the market no longer meet the needs of the new generation of retirees. Retirement housing helps prevent some of the largest hurdles facing older people in the UK. While physical health issues are well documented, issues such as mental illness and loneliness are still misunderstood and it is our mission to bridge the gaps that we see in these areas. www.pegsuslife.co.uk
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