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The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) is a specialist authors’ group in the United Kingdom, most notable for its Gold Dagger award for the best crime novel of the year. The Association also promotes the crime fiction genre by attending literary festivals and other writing events, liaising with libraries, and enabling members to meet at its annual conference.

The Crime Writers' Association
Official language
Martin Edwards
Key people
Martin Edwards, Dea Parkin


Terms of MembershipEdit

Membership is open to any author who has had one crime novel produced by a bona fide publisher (or at the discretion of the committee), with associate membership also offered to those in the publishing industry and provisional membership to writers who have a contract with a publisher but whose book is not yet published. It enables writers to contact each other, promotes crime writing with annual awards, and organises social events. It also supports writing groups, festivals and literary events through its authors. The main aims of the CWA are to promote the crime genre and to support professional writers. The CWA has been providing social and professional support for its members for more than half a century, as well as running the prestigious Dagger Awards.

The CWA was founded by John Creasey in 1953. It is chaired by Martin Edwards and has over 700 members. The Secretary of the Crime Writers Association is currently Dea Parkin, who also runs editorial consultancy Fiction Feedback. The management of the organisation is by CJAM of Colchester.


The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers awards were started in 1955, less than two years after the association was founded, with the award of a Crossed Red Herring Award to Winston Graham for The Little Walls.

Over the years the number of CWA Daggers has increased. Eleven Daggers are now awarded annually by the CWA.

Other DaggersEdit

  • The CWA Gold Dagger, This award is for the best crime novel by an author of any nationality, originally written in English, first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the crime novel defines eligible books including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction.
  • The CWA International Dagger This award is for crime novels (defined by the broadest definition including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction) as long as the book was not originally written in English and has been translated into English for UK publication.
  • The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: This award is for the best thriller novel first published in the UK during the Judging Period. The broadest definition of the thriller novel is used for eligible books; these can be set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, action/adventure stories and psychological thrillers. Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that ‘one simply has to turn the page’; this is one of the main characteristics that the judges will be looking for. Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.
  • The CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction: This award is for any non-fiction work on a crime-related theme by an author of any nationality, on condition that the book was first published in the UK in English.
  • The CWA John Creasey (New Blood Dagger): Awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, This award is for the best crime novel by a first-time author of any nationality first published in the UK in English. This award used to be known as the John Creasey Memorial Dagger.
  • The CWA Dagger in the Library: This Dagger is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to readers"; authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers' Groups and judged by a panel of librarians.
  • The Debut Dagger: sponsored by Orion, and open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially.
  • The CWA Historical Dagger: This award is for the best historical crime fiction novel, first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period, set in any period up to 50 years prior to the year in which the award will be made. Previously known as the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, awarded to historical mysteries since 1999. From 2014 this award has been sponsored by Endeavour Press.
  • The CWA Short Story Dagger: This award is for any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment or E-stories from bona fide publishers that pays for contributions.
  • CWA Diamond Dagger: an award for lifetime achievement.

In 2015 the CWA launched Dagger Reads a new initiative to support and promote the shortlisted titles for the Daggers.


The CWA has produced many collections of crime writing (mainly fiction, but occasionally including true crime). The editor of the CWA anthology since 1996 has been Martin Edwards. In 2003, he edited a special collection, Mysterious Pleasures, to celebrate the CWA's Golden Jubilee. Original Sins is the 2010 anthology of crime from a distinguished selection of British writers published by Severn House. In 2013 the CWA Anthology 'Deadly Pleasures' was published and in 2015 an anthology of True Crime stories was released.

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