You’re never too old to become a writer.
That’s the message being put forward at this year’s London Book Fair, with a new writing prize announced for debut novelists over the age of 50.
Literary agency Jenny Brown Associates is the organization behind the award. One of their literary agents, Lisa Highton, explained to The Guardian that the idea behind this prize is to change writers’ perceptions of what age you can be a successful debut novelist at.
She said: “The bestseller lists are full of debut novelists who are older, but the perception is that you have to be young when your first book comes out. But being a debut is not just about being a shiny, sparkly, young person. The reason we launched the award was to say to people over 50 yes, you too can be a shiny, sparkly, new writer– just older.”
In fact, some of the world’s most critically acclaimed novelists didn’t get their start in the literary world until they had their 50th birthday. Writers who started their literary careers after the age of 50 include Raymond Chandler, Richard Adams, and Anna Sewell. Of course, despite that, it’s easy to feel like writing success comes easier when you’re younger.
Ms. Highton added that this needn’t be the case, as with age, there is a wisdom that younger authors may not necessarily possess and that is to older writers’ advantage.
She added: “By the age of 50, people have had lives, they have had experience. Perhaps they’ve never had the time or luxury to write before, or maybe they’ve always considered publishing to be mysterious and opaque, like an old castle that they just don’t know how to get inside.”
Unpublished writers over the age of 50 have been invited to submit 5,000 words of their novel to the agency, with the winner getting £1,000 and a week at the Scottish writing retreat Moniack Mhor.
Full details of the award are available here.