We are now in the seventh year of our partnership with the prestigious Folio Prize, through which talented First Story students benefit from working one-to-one with an acclaimed writer from the Folio Academy. This year we are delighted that six aspiring young First Story writers will be participating in our year-long programme.
Folio Prize Mentorships are an incredibly valued progression route for alumni of First Story’s Young Writers Programme. The scheme allows a small number of our young writers to pursue their creative writing ambitions, develop their craft, and strengthen their voice with one-to-one support from an established writer.
We are always so excited to see the calibre of the mentors curated by the Folio Academy. Here is this year’s exciting list of pairings:
Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a poet, writer and artist. An alumna of the Barbican Young Poets and recipient of an Eric Gregory award, Victoria has held residencies in the US, Brazil and the V&A Museum in London. Her debut pamphlet, Girl B, was published by the African Poetry Book Fund in 2017. She is the recipient of a Techie scholarship for doctoral research at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her debut collection, Quiet, was published by Faber in 2022. It was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and won the Rathbones Folio Prize for Poetry and the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Victoria will be mentoring Daniella from London Academy of Excellence Tottenham (previously at Skinners’ Academy).
Samantha Harvey is the author of four novels, The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief and The Western Wind, and of a memoir, The Shapeless Unease. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Guardian First Book Award, the Walter Scott Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Baileys Prize, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the HWA Gold Crown Award. The Western Wind won the 2019 Staunch Book Prize, and The Wilderness was the winner of the AMI Literature Award and the Betty Trask Prize. Her new novel, Orbital, was published in November 2023 by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Grove Atlantic (US). She lives in Bath, UK, and is a Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Samantha will be mentoring Sarah from St Paul’s Way Sixth Form (previously at St Paul’s Way Trust School).
Peter Hobbs is the author of two novels, The Short Day Dying and In The Orchard, The Swallows, as well as a collection of short stories, I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train. His work has won a Betty Trask Award, and been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the John Lewellyn Rhys Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a writer-in-residence for the schools literacy charity, First Story. Peter will be mentoring Matilda from Landau Forte College Derby.
Sunjeev Sahota is a novelist. His first novel, Ours are the Streets, was published in 2011 and The Year of the Runaways followed in 2015. His third novel,China Room, was published by Harvill Secker, in 2021, and long listed for the Booker Prize. Sanjeev has taught creative writing to students and writers, on both university and residential courses, and he’s interested in writing and editing prose fiction. Sunjeev will be mentoring Ash from Trinity Sixth Form Academy (previously at Co-op Academy Grange).
Each pairing will work together over the course of the academic year to develop a project of the young writer’s choice. Corresponding regularly online and meeting in person, the mentors will provide personalised feedback and support. There will also be an opportunity for the mentees to perform their work publicly, with a celebratory event at the London Library in 2024.
Read more about last year’s Folio Prize Mentorships showcase.
The Folio Academy is a group of more than 300 outstanding writers. Each year the Academy selects six of its members to become mentees to First Story alumni. Previous mentors include Fiona Benson, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Rachel Long, Will Harris, Adam Foulds, AL Kennedy, Alice Jolly, Evie Wyld, Francesca Beard, Joe Dunthorne, Kamila Shamsie, Louise Doughty, Lucy Caldwell, Nikesh Shukla, Ross Raisin and Sharlene Teo. The project is made possible by sponsorship of Rathbone Investment Management and the generous funding from Arts Council England and Cockayne Foundation.
First Story works with Forward Prize-shortlisted poet Ralf Webb from Rathbones Folio Prize, and the mentorship scheme is supported this year by Amazon Literary Partnership.