William Sieghart

William Matthew Timothy Stephen Sieghart CBE (born 1960) is a British entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist[1] and the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry. He is the current chairman of the Somerset House Trust.[2]

William Sieghart
William Matthew Timothy Stephen Sieghart

1960 (age 60–61)
St Anne's College, Oxford
OccupationEntrepreneur, publisher

Education and careerEdit

Born in 1960, son of barrister Paul Sieghart, a human rights lawyer, campaigner, broadcaster and author, and Felicity Ann Sieghart, chairman of the National Association for Gifted Children, magistrate and later managing director of the Aldeburgh Cinema, William is the older brother of Mary Ann Sieghart.[3] He was educated at Eton and St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1986, he founded Forward Publishing with a business partner Neil Mendoza, an independent contract publisher, publishing magazines, children's books and poetry books. He is the author of a book on golf, The Swing Factory. Sieghart presented a weekly TV programme for Bloomberg for three years. His interests include foreign travel and cricket. In addition to his work in poetry and the Middle East, Sieghart also founded Big Arts Week and Street Smart, the initiative whereby diners give a percentage of their restaurant bill to the homeless. He was a member of Arts Council England 2000–06, and was chairman of its Lottery Panel. In September 2015, Sieghart was appointed Chairman of Somerset House Trust.


In 1992, Sieghart established The Forward Prizes for Poetry to help raise the profile of contemporary poetry by new and established poets.

In 1994, he founded National Poetry Day, a day of celebration of verse on the first Thursday of October which has become an established fixture in the cultural calendar. Events take place in schools, pubs, arts centres, bookshops, libraries, buses, trains and Women's Institutes, and the day is the focus for media attention for poetry.The Forward Arts Foundation

The Forward Arts Foundation (a registered charity) was set up in 1995 to administer the Forward Prizes and National Poetry Day.[4]

His initiative Winning Words was a public art project during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It aimed to enable everyone to experience poetry in exciting ways and to create a legacy of inspiring words for the nation to enjoy. Winning Words comprised both permanent and temporary poems throughout the Park, made up of site-specific poems commissioned from local poets, as well as poems suggested by the public and chosen by a panel.[5]

Sieghart chaired and authored ‘An Independent Review of E-Lending in Public Libraries in England’ [6] published by Department Culture, Media and Sport, 2013 and was subsequently jointly commissioned by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, DCMS and Brandon Lewis, Minister for Communities & Local Government, DCLG to consider and report on Public Library services in England. The ‘Independent Library report for England’[7] was published by DCMS in Dec 2014.

In September 2015, Sieghart was appointed Chairman of Somerset House Trust.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to public libraries.[8]

William has published many books and is a regular broadcaster. His most recent books are The Poetry Pharmacy, published Sept 2017 by Penguin[9] and 100 Prized Poems – 25 Years of the Forward Books, published by Forward in association with Faber & Faber 2016.[10] In Sept 2019 Vol II, The Poetry Pharmacy Returns was published in the UK and Vol III The Poetry Remedy published in the USA by Penguin Random House in Oct 2019.


Sieghart also takes an interest in the Middle East. He is Founder and Chairman of Forward Thinking, founded post 9/11 to help promote durable peace agreements and to engage the most extreme parties in face-to-face dialogue. Forward Thinking works both in the UK and the Middle East.[11][12]


  1. [1]
  2. William Sieghart Reprieve
  3. Arabic Fiction; trustee
  4. [2]
  5. [3]
  6. [4]
  7. [5]
  1. ^ "William Sieghart: 'I want people to drop their fear of poetry'". October 2017.
  2. ^ "Our Team". September 2016.
  3. ^ The Independent, 28 April 1997, Media Families: 11. The Siegharts, Mary Ann Sieghart, and her daughter, Evie Prichard; William Sieghart and his wife, Molly Dineen
  4. ^ "William Sieghart: 'I want people to drop their fear of poetry'". October 2017.
  5. ^ "London 2012 Olympic poetry: Winning words".
  6. ^ "An Independent Review of E-Lending in Public Libraries in England".
  7. ^ "Independent Library Report for England".
  8. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N10.
  9. ^ "The Poetry Pharmacy".
  10. ^ http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/forward-prizes-for-poetry/100-prized-poems-twenty-five-years-of-the-forward-prizes/
  11. ^ "William Sieghart CBE – FORWARD THINKING".
  12. ^ "How to give it: William Sieghart". Financial Times. 7 October 2011.

Further readingEdit