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Literary Openings, Gadgets and News in Nigeria | Duketundesblog: The Desmond Elliot Prize

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Desmond Elliot Prize

About Desmond Elliot and The Desmond Elliot Prize.
Desmond Elliott was born in London on Christmas Eve 1929. At the age of 10 he was placed in the Royal Masonic Orphanage in Dublin, Ireland following the death of his father. He had the benefit of a good education and he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin. However, he decided to travel to England in 1947 at the age of 16 with just £2 and a letter of introduction from the editor of The Irish Times.

Desmond Elliott first worked as an office boy for Macmillan Publishers, before joining Hutchinson (publisher) and then Michael Joseph (publisher). After being fired by Max Reinhardt (publisher) he received £1,000 compensation and a job offer from Sidney Bernstein, of ITV Granada – who then had second thoughts. Using the remainder of his compensation, he set up as an independent agent in 1960 and founded Arlington books.


His dedication and business sense made Elliott one of the most successful men in his field and was key to the creation of a list of hugely successful blockbuster novelists; Candida Lycett Green, Penny Vincenzi  and Lynda Lee-Potter, to name but a few. He also introduced Tim Rice to Andrew Lloyd-Webber as an early client. Respected and loved by his authors, in the words of Candida Lycett Green, Elliott was simply "magic". Desmond Elliot died in the year 2003.

The Desmond Elliot Prize

Before his death in 2003, Desmond Elliott stipulated that his literary estate should be invested in a charitable trust that would fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”. The annual Desmond Elliott Prize was therefore founded in 2007, awarding a sum of GB£10,000 to the author of a first novel published in the UK. Elliott once told the novelist Sam Llewellyn that his ideal novel was a “cross between a treasure hunt and a race” and the winning novel must therefore exhibit depth and breadth with a compelling narrative.

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