Entertainment & Arts

Women's fiction prize announces Baileys as new sponsor

Kate Mosse
Novelist Kate Mosse co-founded the Orange Prize in 1996

The Women's Prize for Fiction has announced a three-year sponsorship deal with liqueur brand Baileys.

From 2014, the literary award - formerly known as the Orange Prize - will be known as the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The 2013 prize was funded privately while a new sponsor was sought.

The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at the Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday.

Kate Mosse, chair of the Women's Prize for Fiction board, said it was felt Baileys was the "ideal choice" after talks with a range of potential sponsors.

"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," she said.

"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."

Speaking to the BBC, the novelist said there had been discussions with some 25 potential backers.

"We did in the end have a choice, which was a wonderful position to be in," Mosse said. "Baileys will have a presence at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, which shows a sign of the partnership already beginning."

She expressed "delight" that Women's Prize for Fiction would be included in the new title for the award.

"We weren't expecting that," Mosse added. "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."

She said more plans for the 2014 prize would be revealed in the autumn.

Hilary Mantel and Zadie Smith are among the authors up for this year's award. Also on the shortlist are Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Atkinson, AM Homes and Maria Semple.

If Mantel wins the prize for her historical novel Bring Up the Bodies, she will become the first person to win all three of the UK's major book prizes.

Her novel, a follow-up to 2009's Wolf Hall, won the Man Booker Prize last year and was named Costa Book of the Year in January.

The judges, chaired by actress Miranda Richardson, will meet on Tuesday night to make their final decision.

"Nothing is decided yet and I'm really looking forward to listening to the judges' deliberations," Mosse said. "It's such a strong list - it makes it very exciting."

The Women's Prize for Fiction is awarded for the best novel of the year written by a woman of any nationality in the English language - and published in the UK.

From 1996 to 2012, it was known as the Orange Prize for Fiction. Mobile company Orange announced in May 2012 that it was ending its 17-year sponsorship.

The prize this year has been privately supported by companies and individual donors - among them Cherie Blair, entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox and author Joanna Trollope.

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