Wellcome Book Prize

Key facts

Genres / categories


Prize money: £30,000

Key dates

Longlist announced: 06/02/2019
Shortlist announced: 19/03/2019
Winner(s) announced: 01/05/2019

The Wellcome Book Prize is an annual award, open to new works of fiction or non-fiction. To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci-fi and history.

At some point, medicine touches all our lives. Books that find stories in those brushes with medicine are ones that add new meaning to what it means to be human. The subjects these books grapple with might include birth and beginnings, illness and loss, pain, memory, and identity. In keeping with its vision and goals, the Wellcome Book Prize aims to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.

The winner is announced on the 1st of May. 

The 2019 Shortlist is

  • Amateur: A true story about what makes a man by Thomas Page McBee
  • Heart: A history by Sandeep Jauhar
  • Mind on Fire: A memoir of madness and recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning
  • Murmur by Will Eaves
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

The 2019 longlist is: 

– Amateur: A true story about what makes a man (Canongate Books) by Thomas Page McBee (USA) Non-fiction
 Astroturf (riverrun, Quercus) by Matthew Sperling (UK) Fiction
 Educated (Windmill Books/Cornerstone) by Tara Westover (USA) Non-fiction
 Freshwater (Faber & Faber) by Akwaeke Emezi (Nigeria) Fiction
 Heart: A history (Oneworld) by Sandeep Jauhar (India/USA) Non-fiction
 Mind on Fire: A memoir of madness and recovery (Penguin Ireland) by Arnold Thomas Fanning (Ireland) Non-fiction
 Murmur (CB Editions) by Will Eaves (UK) Fiction
 My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Jonathan Cape) by Ottessa Moshfegh (USA) Fiction
 Polio: The odyssey of eradication (Hurst Publishers) by Thomas Abraham (UK) Non-fiction
 Sight (John Murray Press) by Jessie Greengrass (UK) Fiction
– The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster (The Text Publishing Company) by Sarah Krasnostein (Australia/USA) Non-fiction
– This Really Isn’t About You (Picador) by Jean Hannah Edelstein (UK/USA) Non-fiction

Mark O’Connell won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize for To be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers and the futurists solving the modest problem of death. Click here to read the full story.