This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article relies excessively on references to primary sources. Please improve this article by adding secondary or tertiary sources. Find sources: "Society of Authors" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (January 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia's content policies, particularly neutral point of view. Please discuss further on the talk page. (January 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Society of Authors
The Society of Authors
Founded1884; 140 years ago (1884)
HeadquartersLondon, UK
11,905 (2022)[1]
Key people
Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin, Chair[2]
Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive

The Society of Authors (SoA) is a United Kingdom trade union for professional writers, illustrators and literary translators, founded in 1884[3] to protect the rights and further the interests of authors. In 2020 membership stood at over 12,000.[4]


The SoA has counted among its members and presidents numerous notable writers and poets, including Tennyson (first president), George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, Alasdair Gray,[5] John Edward Masefield, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, J. M. Barrie and E. M. Forster.[6]

In 1958 the Translators Association (TA) was established as a specialist group within the Society of Authors.[7]

Contemporary members include Philip Pullman (SoA president from 2013 to March 2022[8]), Malorie Blackman, Neil Gaiman, Philip Gross, Judith Kerr, J. K. Rowling and Lemn Sissay.[9]


Membership of the society is open to authors, defined as "anyone who creates work for publication, broadcast or performance". For full membership an author must have published a work with a publisher, or sold a specified number of print copies or ebooks if self-published, or met other criteria. Associate membership is offered to students and to "emerging authors" and students.[10] As of January 2024 there over 11,800 voting members. The society's fellows are a group of "members of high standing and who have been exceptional in their support of the Society of Authors", whose role is to elect the president and to handle the society's assets should it cease to exist. A management committee of 12 members is elected to serve for three-year terms, and they elect their chair for two-year terms. The president "is an ambassador for the Society of Authors and comments on broad policy issues, but has no decision-making role in our direction or governance"; as of January 2024 the post is vacant, and a process to elect a new president will begin in 2024. Following decisions at the 2023 AGM after a review of the role of president, the position will in future be named "honorary president" and the holder will be elected for a three-year term, with a maximum extension of a further two years.[11]

Literary estates

The society administers the literary estates of 58 authors (as of 2024), and the income from this supports its work. These authors include George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Philip Larkin and Rosamond Lehmann.[12]


In 1969 the British Library acquired the archive of the Society of Authors from 1879 to 1968 consisting of six hundred and ninety volumes.[13] The British Library acquired a further two hundred and fifty-eight volumes in 1982 and 1984.[14]

Awards and prizes

Prizes for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction administered by the SoA include:[15]

The organisation also administers a number of literary translation prizes,[17][18] including:

It has previously administered the following prizes:

See also


  1. ^ "Annual Return for a Trade Union" (PDF). Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  2. ^ Bayley, Sian (23 January 2024). "Fox O'Loughlin elected new SoA chair, succeeding Harris". The Bookseller. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  3. ^ "The Society of Authors overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK". Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  4. ^ Sherwood, Harriet; Taylor, Harry; Arts, Harriet Sherwood; correspondent, culture (17 November 2022). "Joanne Harris sees off vote to oust her from Society of Authors role". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Gray, Alasdair, 1934–2019 | Art UK".
  6. ^ "Society of Authors - history". Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  7. ^ Anderson, Porter (4 October 2023). "UK's Society of Authors' CEO Nicola Solomon is Retiring". Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  8. ^ Philip Pullman resigns from SoA Presidency, The Society of Authors.
  9. ^ "Council & President", The Society of Authors.
  10. ^ "Am I eligible?". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  11. ^ "Governance". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Literary estates". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 21 January 2024.
  13. ^ Society of Authors Papers, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  14. ^ Correspondence and papers of the Society of Authors and League of Dramatists, archives and manuscripts catalogue, the British Library. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Society of Authors -Prizes for fiction and non-fiction". Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  16. ^ "The ADCI Literary Prize". The Society of Authors. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  17. ^ a b "European literature in English translation : recent prizewinners". Languages across Borders. Cambridge University Libraries: European Collections. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  18. ^ Anderson, Porter (9 February 2023). "The Society of Authors: 2023 Translation Prize Winners". Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  19. ^ "Bernard Shaw Prize 2023 shortlist announced". SELTA. 1 December 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  20. ^ "Sarah Death wins the Bernard Shaw Prize for translation for the third time". ALCS. 11 February 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  21. ^ "The Risa Domb/Porjes Prize". Jewish Literary Foundation. Retrieved 25 January 2024.