bbfscottprize003130615_afh1-1160x500_cHere’s heartening news for writers still battling on through a blizzard of rejection slips from publishers: English historical author John Spurling “has won the sixth Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel set in imperial China, The Ten Thousand Things,” despite being rejected 44 times by publishers. According to Spurling’s own statement, “I always thought that I would like success to be in my seventies, and I’m seventy-nine this year, so have just made it!” The award to Spurling was worth £25,000 ($38,888).

The prize’s official description states that: “honouring the achievements of the founding father of the historical novel, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. With a total value of £30,000 [$46,665], it is unique for rewarding writing of exceptional quality which is set in the past. Sponsored by Sir Walter Scott’s distant kinsmen the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language.”

Spurling received his prize at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival in the beautiful Scottish Borders town of Melrose., near to Walter Scott’s historic home at Abbotsford. He reportedly spent 15 years working on The Ten Thousand Things, “set in 14th-century China, during the final years of the Mongol-ruled Yuan Dynasty, and is the story of Wang Meng, one of the era’s four great masters of painting.”

Whether for the prize money or not, writers, keep at it. Recognition may still be waiting at the end.


  1. This is so true. I got rejected last year by an agent who LOVED my historical Christian romance, but said that historicals weren’t selling just then. It’s a fickle market so we need to hang in there, and if it works for you, possibly go indie. Or wait it out like this guy. At least the rejection slips aren’t actual “slips” any more, so we can save a tree. And press the delete button.

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