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CWIP Winners Announced!

Charlotte Walker

By Charlotte Walker on 11th July 2019

At a star-studded celebration of The Conduit Club on the 10th July, the inaugural winners of the Comedy Women in Print Prize were announced.

In the Published author category, journalist and debut author Laura Steven won with The Exact Opposite of Okay (Egmont), her “daring, edgy and topical” Young Adult novel about slut-shaming and the issues faced by girls today. Stage and screenwriter Kirsty Eyre won the Unpublished category for queer rom-com Cow Girl, “an original and modern take on a romantic storyline” set in the unlikely world of dairy farming. Multi-million copy bestselling author Jilly Cooper CBE was awarded the first CWIP Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her legacy and inspiration to comic women writers everywhere. The award was presented by Theo Paphitis, CEO of Rymans and CWIP sponsor.

Laura steven was presented with a prize of £2,000 which had been pledged by the sponsor, The King of Soho Gin. The four runners up also each received £250.

The Unpublished category winner, Kirsty Eyre was awarded a publishing contract as aswell as a £5,000 advance from HarperFiction. The runner-up for the unpublished prize, Abigail Mann (The Lonely Fajita) received a free place on the Creative Writing MA course at the University of Hertfordshire. The University was represented at the event by Professor Anne Murphy, who is the Dean of the School of Humanities.

(Photo Credits: Steve Burton, Smartpicsuk)

The CWIP Prize was launched this year by the actress, author and stand-up Helen Lederer ina response to the lack of exposure of female comedy writing. The CWIP Prize will now celebrate both fresh and established talent. 

(Photo credit: Paul Mason)

Helen Lederer, founder of the Comedy Women in Print Prize, commented:

“I’ve lived and breathed CWIP for so many years that the enormity of crowning the winner sat quite heavily. But every judge was committed to finding a winner that reflected what we are here for – to celebrate witty women’s fiction - both unpublished and published. When it came to the wire (and the competition was as varied as it was strong) it was felt the author who was most poised to break through and continue to deliver quality humour should get it. Originality, wit and relatability were also nailed. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven has a unique voice that is as assured as it is witty – and while it is set in a young person’s world - the judges easily connected to the narrative and humour. In the unpublished category the judges were unanimously impressed with Cow Girl by Kirsty Eyre. The intelligence of the characters was both refreshing and compelling while the wit of the narrative connected the reader throughout. Visibility in women’s wit on the page has changed even since I had the idea for CWIP five years ago.”

The CWIP Published Prize judging panel was chaired by international bestselling author, Marian Keyes and included comedian, actress, and author Katy Brand; stand-up comic Shazia Mirza; bestselling author Kathy Lette and journalist and author Allison Pearson.

Marian Keyes, Chair of the Published prize judges, commented:

“There were two top contenders for this prize. In the end the final choice was made based on the potential of extremely young and witty writer Laura Steven to go forward and continue to make her mark while pushing boundaries for funny women’s fiction.”

The unpublished CWIP Prize judging panel was chaired by Perrier Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Jenny Éclair, and included fellow writer, broadcaster and stand-up comic, Susan Calman; Dr Jennifer Young, Head of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University; critic and author, Fanny Blake, Lara Marshall, book blogger and librarian with Hillingdon Libraries; Karen McPherson and Martha Ashby, Editorial Director at HarperFiction. 

Jenny Éclair, Chair of the Unpublished prize judges, commented:

“There was huge affection from all the judges for Kirsty Eyre’s witty novel set in the world of dairy farming. The narrative voice was as strong as it was instant. This is an inspired and stylish read which was both smart and edgy. We cared about the clever protagonist, the supporting characters and the cows in equal measure.”

Find out more about the CWIP Prize at

(Photo Credit: Steve Burton, Smartpicsuk)

Header Photo Credits: Paul Mason, Steve Burton Smartpicsuk

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