The Virago/New Statesman award for a new woman economic and political writer has been won by Frances Weetman. A graduate of Durham University, from Newcastle, Frances Weetman was the unanimous choice of the four judges.
With Frances Weetman the judges felt that they had found a new writer on economics who shows originality and rigorous thinking and writes with real wit and engagement. The award gives Frances Weetman a contract for an extended essay to be published as a Virago ebook this autumn and an option to make a new contract for a full length book. An extract from the final essay will appear in the New Statesman.
The prize was launched last year in response to a publishing climate which often sees non-fiction publishing lists and prize shortlists – particularly in the areas of politics and economics – dominated by men. Entrants submitted a 3,000 word proposal that could be developed into a 20,000-word essay.
Virago and the New Statesman were very pleased with the response to this, the first year of the prize. The shortlist of six, in alphabetical order, are:
Fatima Ayub – Death of dignity: Modern threats to being human
Maya Goodfellow – Racism: The Myth of Equality
Virginia Moffatt – The Rise of the Death Eaters: how the neoliberal consensus has corrupted public life
Barbara Ridpath – Trust: Where has it gone? How can we get it back?
Sarah Waite – Why do we still fall for it? An account of statistical spin in politics
Frances Weetman – Economics is a Religion: Now it Needs its Reformation
Frances Weetman’s writing challenges the basis of current economic thinking, likening it religious faith. She shows how economics does not have true scientific credibility and how excessive confidence in what is actually a belief system may be having disastrous effects not only on our economy but also our way of life. She writes: “It is time for a reformation in economics. Or even an enlightenment.”
The judges were Gillian Tett, author and US Managing Editor of the Financial Times, Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, Tom Gatti, culture editor of the New Statesman and Lennie Goodings, Publisher of Virago.
Frances is a 2013 Durham University graduate in Economics and Politics. At Durham she developed her writing, started at the Royal Court Theatre as part of its Young Writers’ Project as a regular contributor and editor of political articles for the university’s newspapers. Frances has had paid internships with HSBC and the investment bank Nomura, but instead of taking up a graduate banking job offer she has decided to concentrate on film-making and writing. Having made educational films for Durham University, she is setting up an independent documentary film-making project with the aim of increasing political engagement and young voter turn-out. She is a Fabian Women mentee.