Rathbones Folio Prize Mentorships

Our Mentorships programme, which launched in 2017, pairs members of the Academy with First Story students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Rathbones Folio Academy Mentors and First Story Mentees meet face-to-face as well as online to work on a creative writing portfolio project, which is then shared at a public showcase.

The Rathbones Folio Mentorship scheme is currently funded by the Amazon Literary Partnership. Previous funders include Arts Council England and the Cockayne Foundation.


The 2022/3 Folio Academy Mentors

The 2023 Folio Mentorships Showcase will take place on the evening of Saturday July 15th at the London Library, 14 St James’s Square, London. 

Our mentors (below) will introduce mentees who will read some of their work. This is always a stunning evening – for more information click here.

Our 2022/23 Mentors

Emily Berry (top left) is the author of three books of poems all published by Faber – Dear Boy (2013), Stranger, Baby (2017) and Unexhausted Time (2022), and a co-writer of The Breakfast Bible, a compendium of breakfasts. She is the editor of The Poetry Review.

Sam Byers (top middle) is the author of Idiopathy (2013), Perfidious Albion (2018) and Come Join Our Disease (2021). His work has been shortlisted for many Prizes including the Costa First Novel Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction among others.

Diana Evans (top right) is a British author of Nigerian and English descent. She is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: the award-winning debut 26a, The Wonder and Ordinary People, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Rathbones Folio Prize among others.

Frances Leviston (bottom left) is a poet, critic and short story writer. Her first collection of poetry, Public Dream (2007), was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize among others; her second collection, Disinformation (2015), was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of the short story collection The Voice in My Ear (2020).

Chris Power (bottom middle) has judged the Goldsmiths prize and is a Presenter on Radio 4’s Open Book. His debut story collection, Mothers (2018), published by Faber, was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize; he is also the author of a novel A Lonely Man (2021). Power previously wrote a long-running column for The Guardian about the short story form.

Momtaza Mehri (bottom right) is a prize-winning poet and essayist, the former Young People’s Laureate for London and columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least (2019), was published by Goldsmiths Press; her debut poetry collection will be published in 2023.


The 2022 Rathbones Folio Mentorships Showcase

Our latest cohort of mentees shared their dazzling work at the London Library in July.

Emily Freeman (first on left) writes: Being a Rathbones Folio mentee and having Fiona Benson as my mentor has helped my writing in ways I find (ironically) difficult to describe. My instinct when it comes to the editing process has improved massively, and I’m now aware of my style and favourite subjects when it comes to writing. I am not afraid to experiment and understand that the first draft will never be perfect […] I feel like I am improving with every poem that I write. Read more here.

Cheyenne Taylor-Guest (third from right) writes: Chloe [Aridjis] has helped me understand when to write quotes and the best way to make the quotes sound natural between the characters. Chloe also helped me understand the attention to detail that I display in some of my writing and how to connect it to the writing further along. Read more here.


The Day is Fresh – An Anthology by the Rathbones Folio Mentees


Our first anthology from Rathbones Folio Mentees is now available – more information here

2021-22 Mentors

Caleb Azumah Nelson, British-Ghanaian author of the acclaimed debut Open Water, published earlier this year. Mentee: Tegan Blake-Barnard.

Chloe Aridjis is a Mexican-American London-based author of three novels, Book of Clouds, which won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France, Asunder, set in London’s National Gallery, and Sea Monsters, which was awarded the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Mentee: Cheyenne Taylor-Guest.

Fiona Benson is a poet whose collection, Vertigo & Ghost which was shortlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize and won both the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Mentee: Emily Freeman.

Stephanie Cross is a Sunday Times top 10 bestselling ghostwriter, freelance editor, and fiction reviewer. Mentee: Lauren Betts.

Will Eaves is the author of five novels, including Murmur, and two collections of poems. Mentee: Calum Wood. 

Will Harris’ poetry debut Rendang (2020) was a Poetry Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Mentee: Mentee: Lauren Robertson.

Since 2017 the following Folio Academy members have mentored on the programme:

Raymond Antrobus, Kathryn Maris, Paul Farley, Rachel Long, Lucy Caldwell, Alice Jolly, Nikesh Shukla, Sharlene Teo, Louise Doughty, Joe Dunthorne, Adam Foulds, Francesca Beard, A L Kennedy, Kamila Shamsie, Ross Raisin and Evie Wyld.

The 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize Mentorships Showcase

The Rathbones Folio Mentorships are run by The Folio Prize Foundation, in association with First Story