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Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory

The Keats-Shelley Prize on BBC's Get Creative 

2016's Judge Richard Holmes writes about the enduring power of Frankenstein.

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Prize Chairman: Richard Holmes


Perhaps best-known for his studies of the Romantics, eminent biographer Richard Holmes’s most acclaimed works include his biographies of Shelley (The Pursuit) and Coleridge (Early Visions), as well as The Age of Wonder.

First published in 2008, this best-selling work explores the riveting impact of the scientific revolution that swept through Europe at the end of the eighteenth century. The discoveries of Charles Darwin, Joseph Banks, William Herschel, Humphry Davy and other polymaths on both sides of the English Channel didn’t just push the possibilities of science to new and dizzying heights – in the years to come they had a striking impact on the works of Mary Shelley, Byron, Keats, and Coleridge, perhaps most famously in Frankenstein.

Richard Holmes is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

The Keats Shelley Prize 2016

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory Launch 2016’s Keats-Shelley Awards

2016’s Keats-Shelley Awards were launched in style when acclaimed actors Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory gave a special reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to celebrate this year’s Poetry Competition theme: After Frankenstein. 

Damian Lewis And Helen Mc Crory With Will Kemp And Riona  Millar
Damian Lewis And Helen Mc Crory With Will Kemp And Riona Millar

The performance took place on 13 April under the discriminating gaze of Lord Byron – or at least his portrait – at John Murray’s former offices at 50 Albemarle Street. This was the location in which Murray infamously burned Byron’s memoirs on 17th May 1824.

Watch footage of Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory on the Guardian’s website:
Read a report in the TLS blog:
There was even interest in the Beijing News:

The Keats-Shelley Awards 2016

In 1816, Mary Shelley created Frankenstein, now regarded as one of the key Gothic novels of the Romantic period. The new Keats-Shelley Prize 2016 celebrates this famous work with a call for entries on the theme of After Frankenstein.


The Keats-Shelley Prize is an annual competition for essays and poems on Romantic themes. Inaugurated in 1998 the Prize encourages writers to respond creatively to the work of the Romantics, and offers £4000 in prize money across various categories.

The new essay class for 16-18 year olds, now in its second year, now forms a part of the Young Romantics Prize.

The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association is delighted to announce that Richard Holmes OBE FRSL FBA (biographer of the Romantics) has been appointed as Chairman of the judges of the Keats-Shelley Prize 2016. The Chairman will select winning entries from those shortlisted by the Prize Panels.

The Panel for Poets will consist of Matthew Sweeney and Jo Shapcott; and the Panel for Essayists will consist of Professor Simon Bainbridge and Professor Sharon Ruston.

How to Enter 

Poems must not exceed 30 lines. They should focus on the theme After Frankenstein and should not be a pastiche.

Essays, on any aspect of the work or lives of the Romantics and their circles, should not exceed 3,000 words including quotations, and should be written in a clear accessible style. All sources must be acknowledged.
Deadline for all entries week beginning 1st February 2016

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Entries must be unpublished either in print or online and original work not previously submitted. Copyright will be assigned to the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association and your entry will be deemed as consent to first publication in journals nominated by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association.

Your Entry

Email entries should be sent in Microsoft Word format to
Please contact us if you need to submit a postal entry.

Entries will be acknowledged.

All entries must be accompanied by the completed Entry Form downloaded from here. Entry is free.

NB All entries are sent to the judges anonymously so please do not put your name on your actual entry.


Shortlistees will be notified in April and a presentation ceremony will take place in London on 13th April.