VPFA Book Prize

The VPFA First Book Prize & VPFA Second Book Prize

The VPFA awards two Book Prizes: the VPFA First Book Prize and the VPFA Second Book Prize. These book prizes will be awarded in alternate years, beginning in 2023 with the First Book Prize, followed in 2024 by the Second Book Prize. The VPFA First Book Prize is intended for the first book of an early-career scholar; the VPFA Second Book Prize is for a second book by scholars at any career stage.

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association will award one prize each year, worth £200, for scholarly contributions to our understanding of nineteenth-century popular literature and culture.

Works eligible for these prizes will be scholarly monographs about nineteenth-century literary writers, groups or works which, specifically and explicitly, deal with the ‘popular’ paradigm. Works on neo-Victorian popular writing, which help us better understand Victorian popular literature or culture, will also be considered. We also accept volumes of critical essays and jointly authored monographs for submission. However, scholarly editions of popular Victorian texts and translations will not be eligible for submission. For scholarly monographs written in a language other than English – or other types of book/ other queries – please consult the VPFA about eligibility.

The winner of the inaugural 2023 VPFA First Book Prize was announced in the spring of 2024 – see details below. The call for submissions for the 2024 VPFA Second Book Prize will open in the autumn 2024.

Please direct correspondence about the prize to vpfainfo@gmail.com.

Winner of the 2023 VPFA First Book Prize

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2023 VPFA First Book Prize:

Laura Kasson Fiss, The Idler’s Club: Humour and Mass Readership from Jerome K. Jerome to P. G. Wodehouse (Edinburgh UP, 2023).

Dr Fiss will receive a £200 cash prize and be honoured at the AGM of the VPFA Annual Conference at Canterbury Christ Church University (15-17 July 2024).

The judging panel, Professors Anne-Marie Beller, Kate Newey and Jennifer Phegley, wrote in their decision:

[Fiss’s] exploration of this particular cohort of writers as a literal and metaphorical ‘club’ makes an original contribution to the study of these famous but largely neglected figures who have had a lasting impact on contemporary popular cultural forms. … A consideration of the popular lies at the heart of the study [and] Fiss brings fresh and interesting new ideas to the table. … [Fiss] moves smoothly and cogently between textual analysis, literary critical analysis, and a materialist historical framing of the texts. This is not  presented as just context, but is a fundamental understanding of the ways in which this kind of periodical writing participates in a material and industrial landscape of literary production. … The book is a good read, and takes on its subject matter with appropriate humour as well as authority.

VPFA received submissions from the United Kingdom, continental Europe as well as the United States for their inaugural First Book Prize. Entries were submitted by authors, as well as publishers and promoters. Selecting a single winner, wrote the judging panel, was difficult, and they want to thank all colleagues who submitted their works, for their illuminating, fresh studies.

The judges selected two runners-up:

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association sends its congratulations to Laura Kasson Fiss and the two runners-up. We thank the judges for their time and effort, and their thorough report.

Eligibility Rules

In order to submit a book for consideration, an author has to be a paid-up member of the VPFA in the year of submission. Members of the VPFA are eligible regardless of geographical location or employment status. Authors are allowed to submit their own work.

Process of Submission

The works submitted for consideration for the 2023 VPFA First Book Prize should have been published in 2022 or 2023. (Works considered for the 2024 Second Book Prize will, consequently, have been published in 2023 or 2024. Works considered for the 2025 First Book Prize in 2024 and 2025, and so on. The VPFA will invite submissions in a timely manner.)

Submissions for the inaugural, 2023 VPFA First Book Prize should be sent by the applicant to vpfainfo@gmail.com by 31 December 2023. We encourage the sending of e-copies rather than physical copies; alternatively, if an e-copy is unavailable, publisher’s proofs are also accepted. The submission should be accompanied by an endorsement (of about 300 words) by a scholar in the field, which specifies the respective work’s significance and originality. If available and desired, submissions may also be accompanied by copies of published or in-press reviews of the book in scholarly journals or (inter)national media.

Process of Selection

The VPFA’s Executive Committee will, in any given year, select a jury of three assessors, comprised of senior scholars in the field. These assessors will review the submissions and select both a short list and a winner. Both the short list and the winner will be announced in the spring after the submission deadline.

The winners of the VPFA First Book Prize and the VPFA Second Book Prize are expected to present a short overview of their book, followed by an audience Q&A, either in person or online at the annual VPFA July conference. This will be followed by the official prize giving.


The cash prize is £200 for the VPFA First Book Prize and £200 for the VPFA Second Book Prize. VPFA will cover bank transfer fees, if any. Awards for joint-authored monographs and edited collections will be split equally between, respectively, the authors or editors.