About the Prize

Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch

Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch

Honouring the achievements of the founding father of the historical novel, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. With a total value of over £30,000, it is unique for rewarding writing of exceptional quality which is set in the past.

Sponsored by Sir Walter Scott’s distant kinsmen the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. Reflecting the subtitle ‘Sixty Years Since’ of Scott’s most famous work Waverley, the majority of the storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago.

The Prize was founded in 2009, and is awarded at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland, in June every year. The winner receives £25,000 and shortlisted authors each receive £1000.

Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch:

The publication of Walter Scott’s Waverley 200 years ago in 1814 marks, by common consent, the birth of the historical novel – and yet today the life and writings of this extraordinary man, one of the most influential Scotsmen ever to have lived, lie shrouded and ignored. This is lamentable, or so it certainly appeared to someone proud to call himself Scott’s family kinsman.

It struck me and my wife in 2008 that the campaign begun in that year to restore Abbotsford, his historic Scottish Baronial home, needed to reach beyond bricks and mortar and to seek recognition of Sir Walter’s literary and other gifts.  Through the medium of a substantial Prize for outstanding writing, which vividly records and brings to life the past, as he did  – awarded in his name annually at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, and thanks to Alistair Moffat and a panel of distinguished, independent judges, this is now happening.

Almost uniquely, the Prize is awarded not at a formal dinner but in a joyful public celebration of words and books. Its heart is in Scotland – as was Sir Walter’s – but its reach, appropriately for the first international bestselling author, now extends around the globe.