Skip to content

Maggie O'Farrell wins the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction

British author Maggie O’Farrell has won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction and is crowned the Prize’s 25th winner with her eighth novel Hamnet (Tinder Press).

Set in 1596 and inspired by the life and death of Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet was chosen from a shortlist that included Dominicana by Angie Cruz, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and Weather by Jenny Offill.

In a live digital awards ceremony developed for the 25th year, the 2020 Chair of Judges Martha Lane Fox announced Maggie O’Farrell as the winner live from London, while fellow judge Paula Hawkins presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited-edition bronze figurine, in her hometown of Edinburgh.

Martha Lane Fox, Chair of Judges, said:

“The euphoria of being in the same room for the final judging meeting was quickly eclipsed by the excitement we all feel about this exceptional winner. Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring."

Bea Carvalho, Fiction Buyer at Women’s Prize retail partner Waterstones, said:

“We are thrilled that the Women’s Prize judges have chosen Maggie O’Farrell’s beautiful and heartbreaking Hamnet as the prize’s 25th winner. The last year has seen some stunning fiction by women writers, and Hamnet stands out as a work of immense elegance and emotional heft. We are delighted that we will be able to share it with so many more customers as a result of this well-deserved win.”

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award celebrating and honouring fiction by women. Now in its 25th year, the Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from across the world.

The judges for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction are:

  • Martha Lane Fox (Chair), businesswoman, philanthropist and public servant
  • Scarlett Curtis, writer and activist
  • Melanie Eusebe, co-founder of the Black British Business Awards
  • Viv Groskop, author and comedian
  • Paula Hawkins, international bestselling author

The 2020 Prize is supported by three sponsors:

  • Baileys; the world’s bestselling cream liqueur, a longstanding sponsor of the Prize since 2013
  • Fremantle; one the largest creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content in the world, who came on board as a sponsor for the 2019 Prize
  • NatWest; one of the UK’s leading personal, private and business banks, part of the family of sponsors since 2018

To celebrate the Prize’s 25th anniversary, in November, readers will crown the ‘Winner of Winners’, chosen from the 25 winning novels since the Prize’s inception. You can cast your vote here.

Get involved

What do you think of Hamnet? Add your comments below, or click any title above to leave a review.

Remind yourself of the longlist.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WomensPrize. Keep up with all the latest news on the Women’s Prize website.

Want to make sure you never miss the latest reading group news? Sign up for our free monthly newsletter.


Log in or Sign up to add a comment


Keeping your reading group active while social distancing

Are you wondering how your reading group can continue to meet, even while you’re social distancing? With many people at home with family, flatmates or on their own, we know that books are so important to provide comfort, solace and escapism. Staying socially connected, and keeping your regular reading group meetings in your diary, is going to be very important in keeping up morale and supporting everyone’s mental health as we adjust to a new way of living.


How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started.


Hive and The Reading Agency

The Reading Agency loves books, in every form, and we know you do too. We love it when people borrow books in every format from their brilliant local libraries. We love it when reading groups get exclusive free proofs from our publisher partners. We love it when readers pick up a pre-loved book from a second-hand bookshop for a song. And we also love it when you buy yourself or someone else a brand new book from a high street bookshop. We also know that buying online is quick and convenient...

View our other programmes