News: Nina Stibbe, Posy Simmonds & Ruth Jones Win Comedy Book Prizes

News: Nina Stibbe, Posy Simmonds & Ruth Jones Win Comedy Book Prizes

The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 (CWIP) winners have been announced at a star-studded online ceremony hosted from the garden of CWIP founder, comedian and actress Helen Lederer while actor and writer Tony Slattery handed round the canapes. 

The Published Comic Novel prize was presented to Nina Stibbe (pictured) for the ‘genuinely hilarious’ Reasons to Be Cheerful, the ‘beautifully observed’ final book in her semi-autobiographical trilogy. The Published Comic Novel runner-up was named as ‘exciting voice’ and Sunday Times bestselling author Candice Carty-Williams, for her ‘vivid’ debut novel Queenie, about the life and loves of a young Black woman in London.

Marian Keyes, Chair of the Published Comic Novel judges, said: "Judges decided to jointly award the inaugural prize for Humorous Graphic Novels in association with LDComics to acclaimed writer/illustrators Posy Simmonds (Cassandra Darke) and Danny Noble (Was it... Too Much For You)."

Janet Ellis, Chair of the Humorous Graphic Novel judges, said: "The judges chose two first prize winners because it became obvious that - far from being a source of argument - both of these books had the full approval and downright love of all the judges. To place one above the other would be against the spirit of this provocative, punchy and supremely supportive prize."

The Unpublished Comic Novel prize was awarded to improv performer Faye Brann for Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy. And BAFTA-winning screenwriter, actor and  novelist Ruth Jones received special acknowledgment for her contribution to the world of funny women writers, with the first Witty Woman of the Year award, and Mavis Cheek was awarded the CWIP Recognition award to honour her comedic writing and teaching, spanning a career of more than thirty years.



Published Comic Novel WINNER:

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe: the third novel of the semi-autobiographical trilogy sees teenager Lizzie long to escape her troubled mother (Penguin Random House).

Runner Up: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: the critical and commercial hit of the past year is a darkly comic take on life, love and family for a young black British woman (Trapeze).

Published Humorous Graphic Novel JOINT WINNERS:

Was it... Too Much for You? by Danny Noble: a world of nudity and slapstick surrealism inspired by Ken Russell’s film adaptation of Women in Love (Self-published)
AND Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds: a reclusive art dealer and fraudster faces difficult life choices, from the doyenne of comics (Jonathan Cape).

Unpublished Comic Novel WINNER:

Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann: A wacky, comic spy thriller in which a middle-aged housewife is recalled to her secret life, by writer and performer Brann.

Runner Up: The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri: The laugh-out-loud adventures of a singleton who turns to a robot boyfriend and therapy to heal past traumas, by stand-up comedian Barri.

Runner Up: The Lady's Companion by Janey Preger: the romantic adventures of an aristocratic editor, her dear friend and the night-club-dancer she hires, by screenwriter Preger.

Witty Woman of the Year Award WINNER:

Ruth Jones: BAFTA-winning screenwriter, actress and novelist. Her new novel, Us Three, was published on 3rd September (Bantam Press).

CWIP Recognition Award WINNER:

Mavis Cheek: Critically acclaimed author of 16 comic novels, she also runs and teaches on various writers’ courses.

The winners beat stiff competition from fellow shortlisted writers including Michelle Gallen, Angela Makholwa, Beth O'Leary, Abbi Waxman, and Jeanette Winterson CBE. The 2020 ceremony featured a bespoke CWIP song from Georgia Crandon of Georgia and the Vintage Youth.


Now in its second year, the Comedy Women in Print Prize was launched by Helen Lederer in 2019 in response to the lack of exposure for female comedy writing and to celebrate fresh and established talent. It is the UK and Ireland’s only awards to shine a light on witty writing by women.

Helen Lederer, founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, said To have got through this year half out of lockdown, and half in, has been a battle - but we won it. We turned the challenge of Covid-19 restrictions into a colourful online spatially distanced extravaganza, with witty contributions from star-studded guests. I believe in CWIP more than ever, and the success stories in only two years speaks volumes. Unpublished writers have since got agents and book deals, while the published authors have entirely bought into the CWIP ethos."

The CWIP published winner receives a cash prize of £3000 from the Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) with £1000 for the runner-up from an anonymous donor. For the unpublished category, the winner receives a publishing contract and a £5000 advance from HarperFiction. The unpublished runner-up receives £2000 from the University of Hertfordshire and mentoring from the MA course in Creative Writing. An additional runner-up receives a place on the online MA in Comedy Writing from Falmouth University the first of its kind in the country. The graphic novel category joint winners will also receive a cash prize of £1000 to share.

Celebrity special guests at the online ceremony included 2019 CWIP Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jilly Cooper, Mary Berry, Maureen Lipman, Emma Kennedy and Chair of Judges Marian Keyes. Other CWIP champions included bestselling author Lynda La Plante and Sunday Times astrologer Shelley von Strunckel, and a cameo appearance from Jenny Eclair.


A belated in-person celebration for the winners will take place at the Groucho Club on 25th January 2021.

Picture: Anna Ostwald Harper.





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