The mobile network Orange have withdrawn their sponsorship of the English women’s writing award that they have supported since it began seventeen years ago. Orange are said to have dropped their sponsorship in order to focus upon celebrations of the film industry instead.
The prize is a cheque for £30,000 (provided by a private sponsor) and a bronze figurine award named ‘the Bessie’. Previous winners of the prize that sets out to “celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from around the world” have included Marilynne Robinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith.
Steven Day, the chief of the brand and communication has said to The Bookseller:
“While relinquishing sponsorship of the prize is tinged with sadness, we’re hugely proud of what Orange and the women’s prize for fiction have achieved over the past 17 years.
The partnership has significantly raised the presence of international literature written by women in bookstores and on bookshelves across the country, and has played a key part in Orange’s success over the past decade and a half, taking our brand into areas that were traditionally harder to reach.”
Kate Mosse, co-founder and honorary director of the prize also spoke to the Bookseller saying she is “in active discussions with a number of potential new sponsors” and hopes to be able to announce a new sponsor by autumn.
In the shortlist for the prize this year are Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, The Forgotten Waltz by Booker winner Anne Enright, Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick, and State of Wonder by former winner Ann Patchett.
Is this sponsorship drop a devastating issue for the prize, or a chance to breath new life in the award? Let us know what you think!