Press Release
Issued London 23 December 2015
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The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association has announced the call for entries for the 2016 Keats-Shelley Prize. The theme, chosen to mark the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s celebrated novel, is ‘AFTER FRANKENSTEIN’.

The Keats-Shelley Prize is awarded annually for essays and poems on Romantic themes. It was established to encourage writers to respond creatively to the work of the Romantics, and offers £4,000 in prize money across various categories. The competition is open to all aspiring writers, from the ages of 16 upwards, with adult prizes for poems and essays, and a Young Romantics Prize, inaugurated last year, which also includes a short story category.

The Judging Panel in 2016 will be chaired by author and academic, Richard Holmes, well-known for his biographical studies of Shelley and Coleridge, and the Jury includes poet Matthew Sweeney and poet, editor and lecturer, Jo Shapcott and Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge.

The deadline for entries is week beginning 1 February 2016. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 13 April 2016. The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association is a UK charity, whose principal role is to maintain and develop the Keats-Shelley House in Rome. This, the house where Keats died in 1821, is situated at the foot of the Spanish Steps. It is open all year round and is filled with treasures, relics, books and manuscripts relating to the younger generation of Romantic poets. These include not only Keats and Percy ByssheShelley, but Byron, Mary Shelley, Leigh Hunt, and many other great writers associated with Rome, such as Goethe, the Brownings, Henry James, Edith Wharton and James Joyce.

In addition to the prizes, the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association promotes Romanticpoetry by hosting an annual poetry competition for school children in Italy, publishing an annual scholarly review, organising lectures and other events, and funding young scholars attending conferences on Romanticism.

Press Enquiries:

Jane Quinn/Dennis Chang, Bolton & Quinn +44 (0) 20 7221 5000 or

Notes on the 1816 anniversary

1816 is often referred to as ‘the year without a summer’. A volcanic eruption in Asia had a catastrophic effect on most of Europe, resulting in cool temperatures, leaden skies, heavy rainfall and violent storms. This was also the year that Lord Byron left England forever to begin a period of exile which lasted until his death in 1824, whilst Percy Bysshe Shelley, his future wife Mary and her half sister Claire Claremont were also travelling in Europe.

In June 1816 this illustrious and somewhat infamous group of ex-patriots found their way to the shore of Lake Geneva. Byron had established himself at the Villa Diodati, where he was joined by his friend and doctor, John Polidori, and on one exceptionally stormy night they decided to hold a ghost story competition. Out of that competition was born one of the most famous novels in the English language, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. There is some controversy about how much input Shelley might have had in the creation of the final work, but there is little doubt that Mary Shelley was the principal author of a story said to have been inspired by a dream. The novel was first published anonymously in London in 1818 by a small publishing house, having been rejected by Byron’s publisher, John Murray. It was not until the 1822 edition, however, that Mary Shelley’s name appeared on the title page. In summary, 2016 marks the bicentenary of the genesis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as John Polidori’s The Vampire, two of our most enduring modern horror myths which have inspired two centuries of writers and artists. Notes to Editors on the Keats-Shelley Prize The Keats-Shelley Prize was set up in 1998. Divided into two sections - Poems and Essays - its founding principle was to encourage writers and students of all ages to respond creatively and critically to the Romantic poets. Prize Judges have included two Poets Laureate – Sir Andrew Motion and Dame Carol Ann Duffy – as well as Kate Clanchy, James Fenton, Stephen Fry, Penelope Lively, Jack Mapanje, Tom Paulin, Kathleen Raine, Colin Thubron, Claire Tomalin, Salley Vickers and A.N. Wilson. 2016’s judging panel is: Matthew Sweeney and Jo Shapcott (Poetry); Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge. In 2014, a new Young Romantics Prize was added, aimed at students aged between 16 and 18. In addition to the Essay and Poetry sections, there is also a Short Story Competition. The judges are the poets Matthew Sweeney and Kate Clanchy.