Horne Prize backflips on rule change, Marr and Funder quit as judges
The Saturday Paper and Aesop have removed a controversial rule change to the Horne Prize, acknowledging that the changes ‘were restrictive and should not have been included’.
As a result of disagreement over the guideline restrictions, prize judge David Marr has joined Anna Funder in quitting the judging panel for the 2018 prize, which will now be judged by the three remaining judges: Marcia Langton, Suzanne Santos and Erik Jensen.
The recent rule change sought to exclude ‘writing that purports to represent the experiences of those in any minority community of which the writer is not a member’.
The Saturday Paper and cosmetics company Aesop, which together facilitate the $15,000 prize for essay writing, said in a joint statement that the rule change was an attempt to address ‘the need for diversity in storytelling and for people—especially people from minority groups—to tell their own stories’.
‘We acknowledge these guidelines were restrictive and should not have been included. They have now been removed,’ they said, adding that neither the judges, nor Saturday Paper proprietor Morry Schwartz, were made aware of the changed guidelines.
The prize has been reopened for a further month, with ‘no restrictions on eligibility’. All work that has already been entered for this year’s prize will be considered, and writers may submit previously unentered work until the revised deadline of 30 October.
Valued at $15,000, the Horne Prize requires entrants to address ‘some part of the theme “Australian Life”’ in an essay of up to 3000 words. For more information, see the website.