June 4, 2013
Baileys replaces Orange as sponsor for women’s fiction prize
by Nick Davies
The Women’s Prize for Fiction has undergone some changes recently, having lost its funding from telephone company Orange last year (and thus changed its name from the Orange Prize), and announced its nominees this year without a major corporate sponsor. And now, Tim Masters reports for BBC News, the liquor brand Baileys has stepped in to sponsor the prize and ensure its survival.
Novelist Kate Mosse, the chair of the Women’s Prize for Fiction board, told the BBC that they had been in discussions with 25 potential sponsors, saying, “We did in the end have a choice, which was a wonderful position to be in.” Discussing the decision to go with the foremost purveyor of Irish cream as the prize’s backer, Mosse explained:
What we had decided very clearly is that we were looking for a really good brand fit, where it would be a company who was about celebration… We were impressed not only by the scale of their ambition, but also their passion for celebrating outstanding fiction by women and willingness to help in bringing the prize to ever wider audiences. This new partnership marks the beginning of a fantastic new chapter for the prize. It’s time now to focus on the exceptional 2013 shortlisted titles and the awards ceremony itself.
Unlike the former iteration of the award, known just as the Orange Prize, the new version will refer directly to the fact that it’s a prize for women; as of 2014, it will be known as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. “We weren’t expecting that,” Mosse said in the BBC interview, “It showed there would be a sense of partnership. Arts sponsorship works best when it’s a joint project rather than simply one side providing cash and one side providing content.”
The shortlist for this year’s prize includes Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Atkinson, A.M. Homes, and Maria Semple. If Mantel takes it, she’ll earn the distinction of being the first person to win all three major British literary prizes, having already claimed the Man Booker Prize and Costa Book of the Year.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.