The Branford Boase Award is awarded annually for an outstanding first novel to a first-time writer of a book for young people. At the same time, it marks the important contribution of the editor in identifying and nurturing new talent.
Henrietta Branford was a gifted novelist for young people. During her short career she won the Smarties Prize in 1994 for Dimanche Diller (Harper Collins) and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1998 for Fire, Bed and Bone (Walker Books); she was twice shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, in 1994 and 1997. Her progress and development as a writer was watched with interest by publishers, critics and fellow writers alike.
Wendy Boase, Editorial Director of Walker Books, and one of its founders, was a passionate children's book editor wholly committed to developing new writers and nursing them through their early writing careers. She is credited with bringing on many new talents. She and Henrietta worked together on a number of her books, a partnership that was warmly appreciated by Henrietta.
Both Henrietta and Wendy died of cancer in early 1999. The Branford Boase Award wishes to celebrate and encourage, in their names and in their memories, the crucial early development of new writing talent. Running alongside it is the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition which encourages writing talent in 19 year olds and under. Writers who remember with gratitude and affection the vital role their first editor played in bringing them on in the crucial early years of their career, welcomed the creation of this Award.
The Award is the joint idea of Julia Eccleshare MBE and Anne Marley MBE. Julia is the director of the Hay Festival children’s programme. Anne was Head of Children’s, Youth & Schools Services for Hampshire Library & Information Service for many years and helped to found Authors Aloud UK, an author booking agency. She has served on many children’s book award panels, including the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards.