A BEST-SELLING author has become the Bridport Prize’s new honorary patron.

Kit de Waal, 63, accepted the role of honorary patron at the Bridport Prize international writing competition, following the death of Fay Weldon earlier this year. 

Kit, who began writing at 56, won the Bridport Prize writing competition twice, mentored the black writer residency award and is the current memoir judge.

Her best-selling novel My Name Is Leon was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and later became a BBC drama featuring Sir Lenny Henry who also voices the audiobook. Kit’s memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes was published by Hachette in 2022.

Through her writing, Kit set up a creative writing scholarship, and is a regular guest and interviewer in the media and at writing festivals. She recently became the first Jean Humphreys Writer in Residence at the University of Leicester.

Kit said: “I am delighted to be joining the Bridport Prize family as Honorary Patron. I’ve been on the receiving end of the Prize a couple of times and know how prizes can change your writing life, and not just the winners but everyone who enters and strives to get their work good enough to enter."

The author then went on to talk about her involvement with the prize after becoming patron: “I’ve championed the Prize for many years as I know how hard the team work to make The Bridport Prize inclusive and welcoming. I hope to help to continue that work to take the Prize through the next 50 years and beyond.”

Bridport Prize Programme Manager Kate Wilson said that Kit embodies what the competition is about: “She didn’t begin writing until later in life and was once staring at a screen, wondering about sending off a piece. When she did, her life changed.

"We couldn’t be prouder to have Kit as part of our Bridport Prize family, especially in this our 50th year. She always makes a huge impression and is a real advocate for underrepresented writers and those whose voices need to be heard.” She continued.

The Bridport Prize is currently accepting memoirs of at least 5,000 words for a competition, judged by Kit de Waal, which closes Saturday, September 30. For more information visit www.bridportprize.org.uk