Meet Our Judges



Judging Panel:


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... 


Dr Shahd Alshammari - is 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 - is the founder and director of The Barbellion Prize, which is in its inaugural year. He lives with Cystic Fibrosis, Type 1 Diabetes, autism, depression, and kyphoscoliosis. He is an author primarily interested in intellectual history, particularly the work of Raymond Aron, Albert Camus, and Manès Sperber. He lives in Suffolk, England, looked after by his family and his cat, Lemons 🐈.


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.



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 Taught student 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.






Submissions for the prize close October 31st. Our 2020 longlist was announced on December 11th, and our shortlist on January 8th. The winner for 2020 will be announced February 12th 2021.



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With support from the National Centre for Writing, and The Multiple Sclerosis Trust

Credit for The Barbellion Prize logo goes to Norah Al Shammari