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Key changes made to Samuel Johnson prize

21st February 2012

A number of changes have been made to the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, arguably the UK's most prestigious non-fiction award, including an increase in prize money and alterations to the eligibility criteria.

The sum awarded to the winner of the prize, which is already one of the richest non-fiction awards in the country, has risen from GBP 20,000 to 25,000, the result of a new, anonymous sponsor being announced by the Samuel Johnson Steering Committee.

Furthermore, the announcement of the shortlist and the overall winner of the prize has been moved to later in the year, in order to take advantage of the traditional autumn spike in interest in non-fiction books, ahead of the festive season.

Stuart Proffitt, chairman of the Samuel Johnson Steering Committee, confirmed that a shortlist of titles will be unveiled in early autumn, with the winner announced on November 12th.

As the announcement has been pushed back, for this year only the period of eligibility will also be altered to encompass May 2011 through to autumn 2012, so no title misses out on the opportunity for nomination, he added.

Mr Proffitt said he is 'enormously grateful' to the new sponsor of the prize, a philanthropist who is 'passionately interested' in books, reading and literacy but wishes to support the award anonymously.

'We are thrilled to be making an announcement of this kind. The impact of the prize, which grows every year, is a reflection of the quality and diversity of non-fiction publishing in the UK. This new arrangement will allow us to increase its influence further,' he added.

The winner of the 2012 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction will follow in the footsteps of Dutch historian Frank Dikotter, who scooped the 2011 award for Mao's Great Famine, a study of China's ill-fated Great Leap Forward policy.

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