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The Society of Authors (SoA) is a United Kingdom trade union for professional writers, illustrators and literary translators that was founded in 1884 to protect the rights and further the interests of authors. As of June 2017, it represents more than 10,000 members and associates.

Full nameThe Society of Authors
MembersMore than 10,000
Key peoplePhilip Pullman, President

David Donachie, Chair

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive
Office locationLondon, UK
CountryUnited Kingdom

The SoA vets members' contracts and advises on professional issues, as well as providing training, representing authors in collective negotiations with publishers to improve contract terms, lobbying on issues that affect authors such as copyright, UK arts funding and Public Lending Right.[1]

The SoA administers a range of grants for writers in need (The Authors' Contingency Fund, The Francis Head Bequest and The P.D. James Memorial Fund) and to fund work in progress (The Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust), awarding more than £250,000 to writers each year.[2]

The SoA also administers prizes for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translation and drama, including the Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Women's Prize for Fiction.[3]

The SoA acts as the literary representative for the estates of a number of writers. This list includes George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Philip Larkin, E. M. Forster, Rosamond Lehmann, Walter de la Mare, John Masefield and Compton Mackenzie.[4]

Authors of all kinds are eligible to join, whether they are already established or at the beginning of their careers.[5]



It has counted among its members and presidents numerous notable writers and poets, including Tennyson (first president), George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, John Edward Masefield, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, J. M. Barrie and E. M. Forster.[6]

Bernard Shaw was an early member who took a prominent part in action and discussions, founding the League of Dramatists in 1931 as part of the Society. The Authors' Licensing and Collection Society was also formed after much action by the Society.

Well known contemporary members include Philip Pullman (SoA president since 2013), Malorie Blackman, Neil Gaiman, Philip Gross, Judith Kerr, Hilary Mantel, J. K. Rowling and Lemn Sissay.[7]

The Society's quarterly journal, The Author, was first published in 1890. Its first editor was novelist and historian Walter Besant, the Society's founding Chair.[8] He was succeeded by George Herbert, author Denys Kilham Roberts, author C. R. Hewitt (writing as "C. H. Rolph"), the theatre critic, biographer and newspaper editor Richard Findlater, author Derek Parker, novelist Andrew Taylor, novelist and publisher Fanny Blake and novelist and publisher Andrew Rosenheim. Since November 2012 the journal's editor has been the writer and critic James McConnachie.

In 1958 the Translators Association (TA) was established as a specialist group within the Society of Authors.

Awards and prizesEdit

Prizes for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction administered by the Society include:[9]

The Society also administers a number of literary translation prizes, including:

The Society has previously administered the following prizes:

Writers in OxfordEdit

Writers in Oxford (WiO) is a society for published authors living or working in the Oxford area of the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1992 by local members of the Society of Authors[10] such as Philip Pullman and is run by its members for the benefit of fellow writers. It holds some joint events with the Society of Authors[11] as well as its own programme of speaker meetings, visits and networking gatherings.[12]

Members range from poets to novelists, playwrights to journalists. The Society supports local events such as the Oxford Literary Festival.[13] It publishes a newsletter, The Oxford Writer.[12]


A selection of members, past and present:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About the SoA", The Society of Authors.
  2. ^ "Grants", The Society of Authors.
  3. ^ "Prizes", The Society of Authors.
  4. ^ "Estates", The Society of Authors.
  5. ^ "Are you eligible?", The Society of Authors.
  6. ^ "Society of Authors - history". Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  7. ^ "Council & President", The Society of Authors.
  8. ^ "History". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Society of Authors -Prizes for fiction and non-fiction". Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  10. ^ "Writers in Oxford | Society of Authors - Protecting the rights and furthering the interests of authors". Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Writers in Oxford Party, 22 October | Society of Authors - Protecting the rights and furthering the interests of authors". Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Writers in Oxford - About WiO". Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Lorna Fergusson and Marcus Ferrar - Writers in Oxford - 6 Apr 2016 - Oxford Literary Festival". Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  14. ^ Hartford, Maggie (20 November 2012). "Happy Birthday to writers' group and bookshop". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  15. ^ Blackman, Jaine (28 February 2014). "Author Janie Hampton - 'Bring on the next chapter'". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  16. ^ Bullard, Robert (4 March 2015). "Business Writing Tips: For Easy and Effective Results". Perfect Text. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Richard Webster: Author who got to heart of issues". The Oxford Times. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  18. ^ Zacaroli, Mary (25 September 2008). "Steeped in war". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  19. ^ Gray, Christopher (18 December 2014). "Profile: Ross King - Probing art's great wonders". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  20. ^ a b Kearney, Chris (30 December 2007). "Extraordinary tales from concert halls". The Oxford Times. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Frances Farrer". The Oxford Times. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2016.

External linksEdit