The Oscar Wilde Awards are an annual celebration of excellence in literature, with a particular focus on works written by, or about, LGBTQ+ writers. They have been established to honour the memory of Oscar Wilde and to highlight the important contribution that LGBTQ+ writers have made to the literary landscape. The awards cover a range of genres, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction and drama.
The awards are run by the Oscar Wilde Society and supported by a number of high-profile partners, such as Amnesty International, OutRight Action International and The Independent. The awards have grown in popularity and recognition since their inception in 2010 and have become an important platform for LGBTQ+ voices and visibility.
The awards are judged in three categories: Best Fiction/ Non-Fiction/Poetry, Best Drama and Best Translated Fiction/Non-Fiction/Poetry. Each category carries a cash prize of £1,000, with an additional £1,000 for the overall winner of the award. All shortlisted titles are also eligible for the Publisher of the Year award and the reviews for each work are presented in The Guardian.
The awards are open to all nationalities and the judging panel consists of a mix of literary experts, editors and publishers, as well as other members of the literary community. Past winners have hailed from across the globe and the judges look for works that not only excel in terms of writing, but also in terms of impact, both socially and politically. All shortlisted books are also commemorated in an exhibition each year, which is currently held at the British Library.
The Oscar Wilde Awards have become a widely respected event in the literary calendar, with authors, publishers and readers alike eager to hear of the prize-winners each year. They offer a unique opportunity to showcase the work of LGBTQ+ writers and celebrate the huge contribution they make to our culture.
History of the Oscar Wilde Awards
The Oscar Wilde Awards were initially established in 2010 by members of the LGBT arts and culture community, in honour of celebrated Irish writer Oscar Wilde. Wilde was a groundbreaking figure who, despite being criminalised for his queerness in his lifetime, managed to create some of the best-known works of British literature of the 19th century.
The awards take great care to mark Wilde’s contribution to literature in both the selection of works and in the prize-winners’ speeches. They also pay homage to the Bard’s adventurous spirit and his determination to challenge convention and create a space for LGBTQ+ voices in the literary world.
From the beginning, the founders of the Oscar Wilde Awards wanted to create a recognised platform for LGBTQ+ writers. In its first decade, the awards have done much to raise the profile of such authors, with many of the winners going on to achieve great success in their careers.
Moreover, over time the awards have also developed a reputation for showcasing new and up-and-coming talent. By giving recognition to both established and up-and-coming writers, the awards have become a highly sought-after prize in the literary world.
Objectives of the Awards
The main objective of the Oscar Wilde Awards is to promote and celebrate the literary contributions of LGBTQ+ writers. This is achieved through a number of different methods.
Firstly, the awards provide a platform for LGBTQ+ writers to showcase their work and gain recognition for it. Authors who are shortlisted for the awards are invited to speak at the award ceremony and their works are widely publicised in both traditional and online media. This is an invaluable opportunity for these writers to gain the attention of potential readers, agents and publishers.
The awards also have a educational function, with the shortlisted works forming the basis of an exhibition at the British Library every year. This gives members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the variety of contributions that LGBTQ+ writers have made to the literary world.
Finally, the awards also raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in the public sphere. As well as recognizing the work of LGBTQ+ authors, the awards also acknowledge and celebrate their experiences. This helps to create a more open and inclusive society in which diversity is valued and celebrated.
Selection and Nomination Process of the Awards
The selection and nomination process for the Oscar Wilde Awards is rigorous, with works being judged on the basis of literary excellence, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ views, issues and topics.
Firstly, an open call is made to publishers, agents, editors and authors to submit their works. These submissions are then reviewed by a panel of experts from the literary world, including authors, publishers, academics and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. They look for works that are aesthetically brilliant, as well as having a social or political impact.
Once the shortlist has been agreed upon, the award winners are chosen by a special Jury of esteemed members of the literary community. This jury is made up of writers, critics and other figures from the literary world, who consider each work carefully in order to decide which ones will be honoured with the award.
The winners are then announced at the awards ceremony, which takes place at a prestigious venue in London. It is an evening of great celebration and also provides an opportunity to hear from the shortlisted authors and thinkers. The event is always well-attended and is broadcast on TV, radio and other media outlets.
Impact of the Awards
The impact of the Oscar Wilde Awards has been immense. They have become a well-recognised event in the literary calendar and have provided much-needed recognition for LGBTQ+ writers and their contributions to literature. Moreover, they have also opened up opportunities for these writers to find agents, publishers and readers for their works.
The awards have also helped to foster greater dialogue and understanding in the wider public sphere. They have raised awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and provided an opportunity for allies of the community to show their support and solidarity.
Overall, the Oscar Wilde Awards have become a vital platform for LGBTQ+ voices and visibility. They are a celebration of excellence in literature and a recognition of the important contributions that LGBTQ+ authors have made to the literary landscape.