The Women’s Prize Trust’s Discoveries, powered by NatWest and Curtis Brown, is an ambitious writers’ development programme offering aspiring female writers of all ages and backgrounds support at the start of their creative journeys. We were absolutely delighted to reveal our first Discoveries longlist of 16 women writers.

Our panel of brilliant inaugural Discoveries judges were 2021 author and founder of the Women’s Prize Kate Mosse, Curtis Brown Creative’s founder and managing director Anna Davis, bestselling author of The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Daré, literary agent Lucy Morris and Director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Sandeep Mahal.

Find more information on how to enter our Discoveries writing development programme here.

My fellow judges and I were blown away by the quality, the breadth, the imagination and the ambition of the submissions to Discoveries. It was a tough job to get the 2500-plus entries down to just sixteen, but we’re confident this longlist is a showcase for some of the freshest new voices in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Women in their 20s to their 50s, coming from a wide diversity of backgrounds and experiences, writing from new perspectives and in every genre, there’s no doubt the future of fiction is in safe hands. We can’t wait to see where all of these emerging writers go from here, with support from the writing courses and mentoring. Congratulations to you all.

Kate Mosse, Chair of Judges for Discoveries

The 2021 longlisted authors are as follows:

Rue Baldry (Title: Dwell)

Rue Baldry lives in York, has five grownup children and a Creative Writing MA from Leeds. She has been a The Bridge Awards Emerging Writer and a Jerwood/Arvon mentee. Twenty-three of her short stories have been published in journals including Ambit, Mslexia, Fairlight Shorts, Litro, The Honest Ulsterman, MIR Online, Postbox, The First Line, Crossways, and The Incubator.

Rukky Brume (Title: Somebody Tell the Weather)

Rukky Brume grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and works in the City. Rukky is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in London.

Anna Dempsey (Title: This is About Alligators and Nothing Else)

Anna Dempsey is an American-born writer and teacher based in London. She won the 2019 Costa Short Story Award and is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing at Bath Spa University.

Lorna Elcock (Title: Under the Light, Yet Under)

Lorna Elcock’s first novel Under the Light, Yet Under is the opening instalment in a literary trilogy set in Scotland. Her short fiction has appeared in Ambit, and has been listed in the Top 60 entries to the BBC National Short Story Award. She has an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Olivia Ford (Title: Mrs Quin’s Rise to Fame)

Olivia Ford is currently writing her first novel inspired by three of her greatest loves; her grandparents, baking and entertainment TV. Raised in Lincolnshire, she graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and currently works as a TV Producer. She recently moved to East Dulwich with her boyfriend James and their cat, Colin.

Chloë Fowler (Title: King)

Chloë Fowler started creative writing three years ago to fulfil a promise to herself that if she turned forty and still hadn’t written a word, she’d better shut up about it. She’s a qualitative market researcher by trade – essentially, paid to be nosy. She lives in London with her wife, Doris the dog and, Daphne the cat.

Riley Johnston (Title: A Holy Show)

Riley Johnston lives in Belfast and is a full-time secondary school teacher. She has been writing for five years. Riley also plays trumpet and is a member of Belfast Jazz Orchestra and plays camogie for Mary Ann McCracken GAC.

Lucy Keefe (Title: Pantheon)

Lucy Keefe writes urban fantasy characters who sound like the women she knows, and eat like the woman she is, living vicariously through her characters’ stomachs. Raised in Dorset, Lucy made it through five years in London, before settling in Kent with her cat, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. Her influences are John Wick, Jill Mansell, Mario Puzo and Taylor Swift.

Alys Key (Title: Serum)

Alys Key is a journalist and writer. She was the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize, and she has forthcoming short stories in Dear Damsels, Weird Horror, and Popshot Quarterly. She works for the i newspaper on the money and business desk. Originally from Winchester, she now lives in East London.

Elizabeth Kuligowski (Title: Red on the Inside)

Elizabeth Kuligowski writes feminist horror and dark YA novels. She has a degree in Classical Studies from King’s College London, from which she learned that the gods are terrible people. She is a vegetarian, a connoisseur of mid-2000s punk rock music, and a collector of weird superstitions. Elizabeth lives in Essex with her husband and two daughters.

Sophia Magbagbeola (Title: Dolly from Ikoyi)

Sophia is from Birmingham UK, adopted by Nigeria and is currently living in Oxfordshire. She has been a zookeeper, care worker, yoga teacher, occasional surfer and is currently working in mental health. She is also now a mother. Dolly from Ikoyi, was written between night feeds and naps, inspired by hearing Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ played in a bar in Nigeria.

Genevieve Marenghi-Daly (Title: She Freezes Who Does Not Burn)

After graduating with BA Hons in English and Philosophy from Exeter University, Genevieve worked for eleven years at the Weekend FT, where she helped create and launch How To Spend It magazine. For nine years, she has volunteered as a room steward and ghost tour guide at Ham House – the magnificent Jacobean mansion where her book is set.

Nana Afua Pierre (Title: A Boy Called Silence)

Nana Afua Pierre is a British-Ghanaian writer based in Gloucestershire. Her manuscript, A Boy Called Silence, was longlisted for the 2019 Mslexia Novel Competition and shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020. In 2021, she was awarded a mentorship with award-winning author, Sara Collins, through the Curtis Brown Creative Breakthrough programme.

Emma van Straaten (Title: Heartstring)

Emma van Straaten was born in London and raised in West Sussex, receiving her degrees in English from Durham University. A swiftly abandoned career in law led her to the V&A Museum where she now works in fundraising. She lives in Putney with her husband and baby daughter.

Niloufar Tabatabai (Title: Say My Name)

Niloufar Tabatabai is a British-Iranian 28 year old based in London. Despite always aspiring to be a writer, Niloufar only took up writing during lockdown in between training to be a solicitor. She has never taken a creative writing course, but hopes to in the coming months. This is the first writing competition she has entered.

April Yee (Title: Dosage and Control)

April Yee is a writer and translator. A Harvard and Tin House alumna, she reported in more than a dozen countries before moving to the UK, where she contributes to Ploughshares online and mentors for UAL’s Refugee Journalism Project. She is shortlisted for the 2021 Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize and the University of East Anglia’s 2021/2022 David T.K. Wong Fellowship.