It can be difficult for writers, before they become established, to write while simultaneously earning a living. To help meet this need the MMF awards annually a small number of Morland Writing Scholarships, with the aim being to allow each Scholar the time to produce the first draft of a completed book. The Scholarships are open to anyone writing in the English language who was born in Africa or both of whose parents were born in Africa.
Scholars writing fiction will receive a grant of £18,000, paid monthly over the course of twelve months. At the discretion of the Foundation, Scholars writing non-fiction may receive a grant of up to £27,000, paid over a period of up to eighteen months.
At the end of each month scholars must send the Foundation 10,000 new words that they will have written over the course of the month. Scholars are also asked to donate to the MMF 20% of whatever they subsequently receive from what they write during the period of their Scholarship. This includes revenues as a result of film rights, serialisations or other ancillary revenues arising from the book written during the Scholarship period. These funds will be used to support other promising writers. The 20% return obligation should be considered a debt of honour rather than a legally binding obligation.
To qualify for the Scholarship a candidate must submit an excerpt from a piece of work of between 2,000 – 5,000 words written in English that has been published and offered for sale,. This will be evaluated by a panel of readers and judges set up by the MMF. The work submitted will be judged purely on literary merit. It is not the purpose of the Scholarships to support academic or scientific research, or works of special interest such as religious or political writings. Submissions or proposals of this nature do not qualify.
The only condition imposed on the Scholars during the year of their Scholarship is that they must write. They will be asked to submit by e-mail at least 10,000 new words every month until they have finished their book or their Scholarship term has ended. If the first draft of the book is completed before the year is up, payments will continue while the Scholar edits and refines their work.
The candidates should submit a description of between 400 – 1,000 words of the work they intend to write. The proposal must be for a full length book of no fewer than 80,000 words. The MMF does not accept proposals for collaborative writing or short story collections. The proposal should be for a completely new work, not a work in progress, and must be in English.
Please also tell us in 200 – 300 words something about yourself and your background. People who reach the short-list will be asked for further information about themselves and how they propose to write their book.
Fiction or Non-Fiction
The Foundation welcomes both fiction and non-fiction proposals. We are aware that non-fiction Scholars may need extra time for research, so the Foundation may exercise its discretion to offer non-fiction writers a longer Scholarship period of up to 18 months.
The Scholars may elect to start at any time between January and June in the year following the Scholarship Award. Their payments and the 10,000 word monthly submission requirement will start at the same time.
The Scholarships are meant for full length works of adult fiction or non-fiction. Poetry, plays, film scripts, children’s books, and short story collections do not qualify.
The Foundation will not review or comment on the monthly submissions as they come in. However, each Scholar will be offered the opportunity to be mentored by an established author or publisher. In most cases the mentorship will begin after the book has been finished and the Scholarship period has ended. At the discretion of the Foundation, the cost of the mentorship will be borne by the MMF. It is not the intention of the MMF to act as editor or a publisher. Scholars will need to find their own agents and publishers although the MMF is happy to offer advice.
Please note that this is not a residential Scholarship. It is up to the Scholars what their living arrangements are during their Scholarship year.
Applications will be received between 30th June 2017 and Oct 31st 2017. Applications submitted outside that period will not be looked at.
The 2016 panel consisted of the three judges below. The 2017 panel will be announced shortly.
Ellah Allfrey, from Zimbabwe, is an independent editor, critic and broadcaster. She was previously Deputy Editor of Granta magazine and has worked at Jonathan Cape, Random House and Penguin. She sits on the board of the Writers’ Centre, Norwich, and is Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize. Ms Allfrey is the Chair of the Judges Panel.
Olufemi Terry, born in Sierra Leone, was the winner of the 2010 Caine Prize for African Literature with his story, Stick-fighting Days.
Muthoni Garland has published over a dozen books for children, two novellas for adults and several stories published in literary journals in Africa, Europe and the USA. She is also a storyteller and has appeared on stage in Kenya, Italy, USA and the UK. Muthoni is a founder member of the writer’s collective and publishing company – Storymoja – which aggressively promotes the gospel of reading for pleasure.
Please go to FAQs about the Morland Writing Scholarships to answer any further questions. Do not submit an entry till you have read and observed the requirements set out in the FAQs and enclosed the five things noted below.
All enquiries and submissions relating to the Morland Scholarships should be directed to
Have you enclosed all five things on the checklist below? If not, do not send a submission.
1. A submission of between 2,000 to 5,000 words as a Word document of work that has been published and offered for sale.
2. A description of between 400 – 1,000 words about the new book you intend to write.
3. A scan of an official document showing that you, or both of your parents, were born in Africa.
4. A brief bio of between 200 – 300 words.
5.Please tell us how you heard about the Morland Writing Scholarships.