The Wellcome Book Prize is an annual award, open to new works of fiction or non-fiction. To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci fi and history.
At some point, medicine touches all our lives. Books that find stories in those brushes with medicine are ones that add new meaning to what it means to be human. The subjects these books grapple with might include birth and beginnings, illness and loss, pain, memory, and identity. In keeping with its vision and goals, the Wellcome Book Prize aims to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.
Who can submit a book?
Only books submitted by publishers can be considered. Each publisher (or imprint) is allowed to submit three books scheduled for publication within the specified period.
How much is the prize worth?
The winning author receives £30 000.
Which books are eligible for the prize?
- Books must be published by a UK-based publisher/imprint during the specified dates (between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016 for the 2017 prize).
- Books published in English translation are eligible, provided that they have been published in English during the specified period. If a translated book wins, two-thirds of the prize money will be awarded to the author and one-third to the translator.
- Books must not be written by more than two authors. If a coauthored book wins, the prize money may have to be shared between coauthors.
- Books cannot be reissues.
- Both fiction and non-fiction books are eligible, so long as medicine or medical science is central to their theme. Collections of original short stories written by a single author are eligible, but anthologies will not be considered. Poetry is not eligible.
- Academic textbooks, scholarly monographs, diet books and picture-led books are not eligible, even if they are relevant to medicine or medical science.
- Children’s books will only be accepted if they have also been published by an adult imprint within the specified dates.
- Self-published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically set up to publish the book.
- Ebook submissions will only be accepted from an established imprint and on the condition that ten copies can be downloaded for the judges’ consideration. In the event that an ebook is shortlisted, the publisher must undertake to produce hard copies and make these available for sale as soon as the shortlist is announced.
- The decision of the judging panel as to whether a book is eligible shall be binding and no correspondence shall be entered into.
- No entry shall be ineligible because its author has won either the Wellcome Book Prize or any other prize previously.
How are books entered for the prize?
- UK publishing imprints may enter up to three books with scheduled publication dates between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016.
- The deadline for submissions is 9 September 2016. Each submission must be accompanied by a completed entry form. If finished copies are not available, bound proofs may be submitted in the first instance, on the condition that they are of good quality and that their content reflects that of the final book. If proofs are submitted, final copies should be sent in as soon as they are available.
- Ten copies of each entry must be submitted to Midas Public Relations (with the submission form) and not directly to the judges. In the event that a book is shortlisted, publishers may be required to provide a further 50 copies gratis for promotional purposes.
- The judges may also, not later than 16 December 2016, call in any book published between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016. In that event, the publisher will be asked to submit a completed entry form, along with ten copies of the book.
- No books submitted by publishers or called in by the judges will be returned to the publishers.
- The judges and chair will decide on a shortlist of six books to be announced in March 2017 and a winner in April 2017.
- The prize is not open to employees or contractors of the Wellcome Trust or any of its associated companies, or their direct family members, or to any person directly or indirectly involved in the organisation or the running of the prize, or their direct family members.
Previous shortlisted and winning books
Our previous winners and shortlisted titles demonstrate how eclectic this award is. You can see all previous shortlisted and winning books here.
Who are the judges?
A new judging panel of five people is selected each year. The judges for the 2017 prize are Val McDermid (Chair), author; Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge; Gemma Cairney, BBC broadcaster and author; Tim Lewens, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge; and Di Speirs, Books Editor for BBC Radio.
The mixture of judges mirrors the broad range of books put forward for the award. Past judges have had backgrounds in the arts, journalism, law and science. The chair of the panel is selected from the five judges. They come from different backgrounds and are highly respected in their professions and bring their own distinct insights to the competition.
Entries for 2017
Submissions for the 2017 award are now closed. The judges will produce a longlist of twelve books for January 2017, follower by a shortlist of six books for March 2017. The winner will be chosen and announced at the end of April 2017.
Who are Wellcome Collection and why do they have a book prize?
Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, it explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, public events, the Wellcome Library as well as publications, tours, international and digital projects, and the book prize. Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust (see below).
The aim of the Wellcome Book Prize is to encourage public involvement and encourage debate about the issues that the shortlisted books raise and to bring new writers and readers to the subjects of medicine and health.
The prize is run by a team within Wellcome Collection. This team is also guided by an independent advisory board made up of industry professionals, including critics, publishers and journalists.
Who are the Wellcome Trust?
The Wellcome Trust, which was founded by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936, is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. It is independent of government and commercial interests.
The Trust invests more than £700 million a year in biomedical research and public engagement activities, financed from an endowment portfolio of £18 billion.