Meet Our Judges



Judging Panel (2021):


Our main panel of judges are those primarily concerned with formulating a longlist, a shortlist, and picking a winner – with a vote in that process.

It is important to us that the judges for The Barbellion Prize - a prize for disabled and chronically ill authors - also share in those experiences: 

Eleanor Franzen - is a writer, critic, and bookseller. Her current project is a medical memoir about Type 1 diabetes, disordered eating, and 21st-century feminism. She was diagnosed with T1D at the age of three. She lives in north London with seven plants, hundreds of books, and one very patient housemate.

Jake Goldsmith - is the founder and director of The Barbellion Prize. He has cystic fibrosis, Type 1 diabetes, autism, and a list of other chronic health conditions. He is an author primarily interested in the phenomenology of illness and intellectual history, particularly the work of Raymond Aron, Albert Camus, and Manès Sperber. He lives in Suffolk, England, cared for by his family and his cat, Lemons 🐈.

Karl Knights - is an autistic freelance journalist with cerebral palsy. His poems and prose have appeared in The Guardian, The Dark Horse, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He lives in Suffolk.

Judging Panel (2020):


Dr Shahd Alshammari - is an Assistant Professor of Literature. She earned her PhD at the University of Kent (UK). She currently teaches in Kuwait. Her research interests include disability and gender studies, and women’s illness narratives. She is the author of Notes on the Flesh (2017, Faraxa Press) and has appeared at various literary festivals. Alshammari was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis many years ago and continues to raise awareness about MS and invisible illnesses in the Middle East. It’s important for her that all disability is acknowledged and made visible.



Jake Goldsmith(see above).

Cat Mitchell - is a Lecturer and is the Programme Leader of the Writing and Publishing degree at the University of Derby. Before working in academia, she worked in publishing, including four years in various marketing and publicity roles at Penguin Random House UK. She has multiple chronic conditions including Fibromyalgia, and has a particular research interest in working conditions for disabled employees and authors in the publishing industry. As of 2021, Cat Mitchell is acting in a Publicity role for The Barbellion Prize, helping to facilitate contact with the publishing industry and marketing.



Advisory Panel:

Our advisory panel exists to help our judges formulate their opinions on submissions with more diverse ideas and input. And also to help with the day-to-day running of the prize...


Dr Stevie Marsden - is a Lecturer in Publishing at the University of Derby. They are an expert in literary prize culture and have experience in managing and consulting on a number of major prizes. Stevie’s academic research interests include contemporary book culture(s) and publishing, and diversity and inclusion in the creative industries.


Blaine McCartney - is a Postgraduate of Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queens University Belfast. His research interests include the experiences of disabled people before, during, and after conflict.

He currently works for the NHS.


Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA - is Professor of Disability Research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, founding chair of the Northern Disability Arts Forum and former member of Arts Council of England.



Our trustees, responsible for the administration of the prize, include...

Elizabeth Ferretti - ( ).

Jake Goldsmith.

Blaine McCartney.

Tom Shakespeare.





Jake Picture.jpg
alshammari pic.jpg
cat mitch pic.jpg
stevie marsden pic.jpg
Blaine pic.jpg
tom shakes pic.jpeg