Prize winner 2019

Primadonna reveals winner of inaugural Prize… as well as next year’s judges

Last night the winner of the first ever Primadonna Prize was revealed at a special event at London’s Conway Hall.

Glaswegian Elissa Soave, who currently works as a law text editor, was crowned winner by ‘Primadonnas’ Sandi Toksvig and Cathyrn Summerhayes – two of the 17 women who set up the Primadonna Prize and Festival in 2019.

Summerhayes not only awarded the prize – she was the prize. Soave won representation by her, currently British Book Agent of the Year, as well as £500. Soave was shortlisted along with four other writers, one of whom, Farah Ahamed, was given a special mention by the judges.

“The Primadonna experience has been a joy from start to finish,” says Soave. “From the excitement of the longlist, to the disbelief of making it to the shortlist, attending the festival in the summer and, finally, attending the celebration of women’s writing for the prize announcement. The ethos of Primadonna is to give opportunities to underrepresented writers and if someone like me – a Scottish working class writer – can win the first ever Primadonna Prize, it’s clearly hitting the mark.”

Soave’s submission, entitled ‘Ginger and Me’, was selected as the winner after a final round of judging by authors Joanne Harris, Lemn Sissay and Neil Hegarty, along with Primadonnas Summerhayes, Monisha Rajesh and Lisa Milton.

Lead judge Joanne Harris said: “The work I’ve seen through judging the Primadonna Prize has been diverse, heartfelt and outstanding. Voices of all kinds, primadonnas, owning the stage. Rightly so; they belong there. And the world is listening.”

Fellow judge Lisa Milton was also delighted to announce that she has signed another new writing talent, discovered at the 2019 Primadonna Festival.

Anita Lehmann took part in the ‘Make Sioned Laugh’ event at the festival, performing her work in front of Sioned Wiliam, Radio 4’s commissioning editor for comedy and another Primadonna.

“The Primadonna festival 2019 was magical,” says Lehmann, whose work will be published under the pseudonym Walburga Appleseed. “So many good things happened while frolicking on that sunlit lawn in Suffolk… and getting a book deal (with Harper Collins) was only one of them!”