The PEN Ackerley Prize is awarded each year to a volume of autobiography by a British author. It was founded in 1982 in memory of the writer and editor J.R. Ackerley. Originally endowed by his sister Nancy West, it is now funded by the royalties received for Ackerley’s books, and remains the only British prize for autobiography.
The judges do not accept submissions by publishers but call in books themselves, and are looking for ones that display the high standards Ackerley himself set in My Dog Tulip and My Father and Myself- enquiring, absolutely candid and, above all, very well written.
The judges are the Trustees of J.R. Ackerley Memorial Trust are all themselves writers, currently Ackerley’s biographer, Peter Parker (chair); the playwright, food writer and historian Colin Spencer; the novelist and short story writer Georgina Hammick; and the biographer and critic Claire Harman. Former judges include the novelist Francis King, the biographer Michael Holroyd, the editor of Ackerley’s letters, Neville Braybrooke, and the biographer and historian Richard Davenport-Hines.