This month, the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced a new initiative, the Futures scheme, aimed at highlighting and promoting the work of ten new women writers. So far, so good. But the announcement has come under fire due to its criteria: writers are only eligible if they’re under the age of 35.

 

Twitter account NoEntry_Arts, which highlights age-related discrimination across the creative industries, was quick off the mark, tweeting criticism of the initiative and the tired cliché that ‘new’ automatically equals ‘young.’ An open letter from the group’s Joanna Walsh, signed by 200 others including Bath Novel Awards founder, Caroline Ambrose, has since called on the organisers to remove the age-related criteria, describing it as a “feminist issue”.

 

“Though the climate for emerging writers has improved considerably since the 1990s, it is still not even,” the letter continues. "Older women suffer from a greater imbalance in free time, education and financial parity with men, when compared to their counterparts in younger generations. These are all factors that affect their ability to commit to regular writing practice.”

 

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