Together with its sponsor, Rathbone Investment Management, The Folio Prize Foundation is delighted to announce the Rathbones Folio Mentorships, in association with First Story.

The Folio Academy, over 250 strong, is the group of outstanding writers and critics who form the Prize’s unique, de facto governing body. With the launch of the Mentorships programme in 2017, it began to undertake a more dynamic and wide-ranging role – and we’re delighted that is continuing into 2020, with the third year of the Rathbones Folio Mentorships.


First Story, founded by former teacher Katie Waldegrave and the writer William Fiennes, brings talented, professional writers into over 70 secondary schools serving low-income communities, to work with teachers and students to foster creativity and communication skills.


The first Rathbones Folio Mentorships programme was launched in September 2017. Four outstanding First Story students were selected and paired with four mentors, who are members of The Folio Academy – AL Kennedy, Kamila Shamsie, Ross Raisin, and Evie Wyld. The four mentors and their mentees met face-to-face throughout the 2017/18 academic year, in addition to corresponding online. The mentees worked on an agreed writing project, and there was a showcase event for the public held at the British Library, at the conclusion of the programme.


The second Rathbones Folio Mentorships programme has paired four more First Story students with this year’s four mentors – Francesca Beard, Joe Dunthorne, Louise Doughty, and Adam Foulds. The mentors will work with their mentees across the 2018-19 academic year on a portfolio of creative writing.


In 2020, the Mentorship programme has paired First Story Students with mentors Lucy Caldwell, Alice Jolly, Nikesh Shukla and Sharlene Teo. The mentors will continue to work with the mentees across the academic year on creating creative work.

The Rathbones Folio Mentorship scheme has been made possible by the generous funding of Arts Council England and Cockayne Foundation.


From the outset, our ambition was that this should be more than ‘just a prize’, with the unique resource of the Folio Academy being ideally placed to engage the public in exploring the power and potential of writing to transform lives.


Andrew Kidd and Kate Harvey, co-founders of The Folio Prize, said: ‘From the outset, our ambition was that this should be more than ‘just a prize’, with the unique resource of the Folio Academy being ideally placed to engage the public in exploring the power and potential of writing to transform lives. This engagement is a key priority for Rathbones as well, and together with them and First Story we are thrilled to be launching a new mentorships programme – the first of numerous initiatives we will roll out over the coming months and years.’


Philip Howell, CEO of Rathbone Brothers plc, said: ‘The Rathbones Folio Prize not only recognises outstanding literary work, it also supports programmes that nurture new talent: a quality we greatly value at Rathbones. We have always been a strong supporter of youth development – be it through our financial awareness programme or our sponsorship of schools lacrosse – and are delighted to be able to continue this tradition with the Rathbones Folio Mentorships, which will help future generations discover and develop their talent.’


Ross Raisin, Rathbones Folio Mentor 2017-18 (and previously a writer-in-residence for First Story), said: ‘As a teacher of young people, and also a mentor of writers, this role will combine two of my most gratifying work engagements, so I am delighted to be involved in the scheme and excited to begin.’


Louise Doughty, Rathbones Folio Mentor 2018-19, said: ‘I’m a great believer in encouraging new writers, having benefited enormously from teaching and mentoring in the early stages of my own career. I did the MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia back in the days of Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter and have helped UEA set up a crowd-funded scholarship for BAME applicants to the course, as well as teaching various courses myself over the years, but individual help is particularly important and I’m really excited about getting to know the candidate that First Story have chosen’


Nicki Shore, Head of Programmes at First Story, said: ‘First Story believes writing is a source of power and pleasure, and we are delighted to be partnering with The Rathbones Folio Prize again this year to enrich and empower students beyond their First Story experience in secondary school. Working with Folio Academicians to nurture the most talented First Story students is a perfect sequel for the young people to develop their craft and strengthen their own voices. We hope this will also contribute to the diversity of the publishing world, as the young people we work with come from backgrounds often not represented in mainstream publishing.’

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2020 – 2021 Mentors

Raymond Antrobus, Kathryn Marris, Paul Farley and Rachel Long confirmed as mentors for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Mentorship programme.

Raymond Antrobus, winner of the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize and the Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year among other prizes, for his debut collection The Perseverance.

Kathryn Maris is a creative writing teacher and a poet. She is the recipient of several awards, including an Academy of American Poets Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Yaddo.

The multi award-winning poet and non-fiction writer Paul Farley, who chaired the judges of this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize.

Leader of the Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, Rachel Long, author of the widely acclaimed My Darling from the Lions, shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Read the full press release here.

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2019 – 2020 Mentors

Lucy Caldwell is a  Northern Irish playwright and novelist.


Alice Jolly is an English novelist, playwright and memoirist, who has won both the Royal Society of Literature’s V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for short stories and the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography. Her novel Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile was nominated for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize.


Nikesh Shukla  is a British author, screenwriter and editor of the award-winning essay collection The Good Immigrant. His writing focuses on race and immigration.


Sharlene Teo is a UK-based Singaporean writer and novelist. She has an LLB in Law from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she received the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship and the David TK Wong Creative Writing award.



The Rathbones Folio Prize 2018 – 2019 Mentors

Louise Doughty is the author of eight novels, one work of non-fiction and five plays for radio. Her latest book, Black Water, is published with Faber & Faber UK and Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar Straus & Giroux in the US. It was nominated as one of the New York Times Book Review Top 100 Notable Books of 2016. Her previous book was the number one bestseller Apple Tree Yard. Louise has recently launched a scholarship scheme for BAME candidates to access the acclaimed University of East Anglia Creative Writing course.


Joe Dunthorne (born 1982) is a Welsh novelist, poet and journalist. He received a BA and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA. He first made his name with his novel Submarine (2008), which was made into a film in 2010. His second novel, Wild Abandon (2011), won the RSL Encore Award. A collection of his poems was published in 2010 in the Faber New Poets series, and a third novel, The Adulterants, was published in 2018 by Hamish Hamilton.


Adam Foulds (born 1974) is a poet and novelist. His novel The Truth About These Strange Times (2007), won the 2008 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and a Betty Trask Award. His long narrative poem The Broken Word (2008), about Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s, was shortlisted for the 2008 John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial Prize and the 2009 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and won a Somerset Maugham Award and the 2008 Costa Poetry Award. The Quickening Maze (2009) was his second novel, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In 2010, Foulds was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Francesca Beard has been described as “spine-tingling” (Independent) and “The Queen of British Performance Poetry” (Metro), and has performed and run workshops for the British Council all over the world. Her one-woman show, Chinese Whispers, produced by Apples and Snakes, toured the UK and internationally from 2003 through to 2007. In 2007, she was on attachment to the Royal Court Theatre as one of the UK’s most promising writers. She has been Poet-in-Residence at institutions such as Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, the Natural History Museum, BBC White City and the Metropolitan Police.



The Rathbones Folio Prize 2017 – 2018 Mentors

A L Kennedy was born in Dundee and has won over a dozen major prizes for her work, comprising 17 books of literary fiction, non-fiction, short stories and children’s literature; her most recent novel, Serious Sweet, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She also writes drama for BBC Radio and occasionally appears on stage as a stand-up comedian. She lives in Essex.


Kamila Shamsie was born in Pakistan and now lives in London. She is an award-winning novelist and an acclaimed essayist and media commentator whose most recent book, Home Fire, was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.


Ross Raisin was born in Yorkshire and arrived on the literary scene with his first novel, God’s Own Country, which won him the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and was shortlisted for three other prizes. Since then he has published two more critically acclaimed novels, most recently A Natural.


Evie Wyld was born in London and grew up in Australia.  She studied creative writing at Bath Spa and Goldsmiths University and her two novels, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice and All the Birds, Singing, have won and been shortlisted for numerous awards. She also runs Review, a small independent bookshop in South London.