A core remit for us here at the Women’s Prize Trust, is to champion brilliant books by women and to address gender bias in the world of books. New research we have commissioned has demonstrated that our mission is just as relevant in 2024 as is was at the birth of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

This research confirms that while women read books by women and men equally, men overwhelmingly reject books written by women in favour of male authors. Newly-analysed data drawn from Nielsen BookData’s consumer research, collected from a significant sample size of almost 54,000 book purchases in 2023, is published today ahead of the winner announcements for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction and the inaugural Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction on 13 June. Both prizes aim to address gender bias by promoting exceptional writing by women to as wide a range of readers as possible.

This new analysis shows that for the top 20 bestselling female writers of fiction and non-fiction purchased in the UK in 2023 (which includes Agatha Christie, Harper Lee, Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Lisa Jewell and the non-fiction author Rhonda Byrne), fewer than 20% of purchases were made by men, with the majority of these focused on the classics as opposed to works by contemporary writers. In comparison, 44% of the top 20 bestselling male writers of fiction and non-fiction (including George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Stephen King and James Patterson, as well as Prince Harry, Robert Kiyosaki and James Clear) were bought by women. Just one of the top 20 bestselling female writers of fiction and non-fiction in 2023 was purchased mainly by men – Harper Lee – whereas seven of the top 20 bestselling male writers of fiction and non-fiction in 2023 were purchased mainly by women: Richard Osman, James Patterson, Prince Harry, James Clear, Matt Haig, Peter James and Harlan Coben.

Motivated to improve this gender bias, and to encourage more men to buy, borrow and read novels written by women, we have been running an ongoing campaign, ‘Men Reading Women’. In 2022, male thinkers and celebrities – from Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Andrew Marr, to Sanjeev Bhaskar, Simon Mayo and Lee Child – selected their favourite female writer, culminating in a public poll which generated 20,000 votes in one week.

In 2023, we published new research which revealed a growing pay gap between male and female non-fiction authors, and a comparative lack of visibility for female non-fiction writers in the media and book prizes. This campaign, which was one of the motivating factors for the launch of the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction in 2024, also resulted in a significant increase in male donors year-on-year. Amongst these supporters, Jason Bartholomew, CEO of Midas, personally donated a significant one-off payment to the Trust to enable the launch of the non-fiction prize. The Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction is also supported by sponsorship from Findmypast and the Charlotte Aitken Foundation. Further funding – and a second commercial sponsor – is actively being sought for the future.

I have read a multitude of non-fiction books by female authors which have immeasurably improved my life. I now have two young daughters growing up in a world creating endless technologies which seem to isolate us only further from the human connections we all need to thrive. Books save lives. Sharing our stories and knowledge in the form of books remains vitally important. However, talk and opinions are cheap. So, I wanted to be bold by offering a financial donation to help the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction inspire girls and women of all ages to keep writing. I am humbled to be able to give back to a charity doing phenomenal work in an industry I love. I also hope my donation inspires other men to step up and support the Women’s Prize Trust, whose ongoing work keeps our industry vibrant and necessary, and connects writers with readers all around the world.


Alongside Bartholomew’s generous financial contribution, there has also been an increase in one-off donations and male patrons signing up to support the Women’s Prize Trust, including filmmaker Richard Curtis.

My daughter has been very involved in the wonderful Women’s Prize – and inspired by her, I decided to change my reading habits. I started with the Women’s Prize for Fictionwinner that year – Maggie O’ Farrell’s Hamnet, and have read 60 books written by women in a row since then. After a lifetime of Waugh, Vonnegut, Dickens and Le Carre, it’s been a revelation and a real joy. Three years of Elizabeth Strout, Arundhati Roy, Edith Wharton, Anne Tyler, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ann Patchett, Daphne du Maurier… The Women’s Prize does such excellent work – changing the lives of writers and readers – that I am delighted to help support them.’


As a registered charity, the Women’s Prize Trust operates on a mixed funding model. In September 2023, actor Stanley Tucci took part in a sell-out event at London’s Barbican interviewed by Founder Director Kate Mosse to fundraise for the Women’s Prize Trust. He generously donated his appearance fee to the Women’s Prize Trust.

The more women’s voices that are heard, especially by men, the better the world will be. Books are an essential conduit for those voices.

Stanley Tucci

The gender pay gap, and inequity between men and women generally, is our collective challenge to tackle, and as the latest statistics show, we still have work to do to ensure that women’s writing receives the same respect, visibility and financial recompense as men’s writing. We are so grateful to Jason Bartholomew, Richard Curtis and Stanley Tucci, and to all our other donors, for their support, and their belief that we are all the richer with women’s voices in the mix. We want to engage a wider pool of patrons – men and women – to support our work in the future, alongside continuing conversations with companies interested in joining the Women’s Prize’s family of sponsors.

Claire Shanahan, Executive Director of the Women’s Prize Trust

To find out more about how you can support or join our circle of patrons, please click here.