Crime Writers' Association

Crime Writers' Association

The Crime Writers Association is a writers' association in the United Kingdom. Founded by John Creasey in 1953, it is currently chaired by Peter James and claims 450+ members.

Membership is open to any author who has had one crime novel produced by a bona fide publisher (or at the discretion of the committee). It enables writers to contact each other, promotes crime writing with annual awards, and organises social events. It also supports writing groups, festivals and literary events with authors.



It is probably best-known for the prestigious prizes which it awards (known as Daggers).

From 1955 to 1959 it awarded the Crossed Red Herring Award for the best crime novel of the year, after which the award was renamed the Gold Dagger. From 1969 to 2005, the CWA also awarded a Silver Dagger to the runner-up.

In 2006, Duncan Lawrie Bank sponsored the top award and dropped the Silver Dagger. It was called the Duncan Lawrie Gold Dagger and carried a prize of £20,000, the largest award for crime fiction in the world. In 2008 Duncan Lawrie withdrew from sponsorship and the value of the top prize was reduced.

Other Daggers have included:

  • International Dagger, for the best crime novel translated into English, with £5000 going to the author and £1000 to the translator. (Briefly known as the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger (2006-2008).)
  • The CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction: The dagger and prize of £2000 are awarded every even-numbered year.
  • The CWA New Blood Dagger: Awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, this dagger for first books by previously unpublished writers is sponsored by BBC Audiobooks and carries a prize of £1000. This award was previously known as the John Creasy Memorial Dagger.
  • The CWA Dagger in the Library: This Dagger, sponsored by Random House and worth £1500, is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to readers"; authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers' Groups and judged by a panel of librarians.
  • The Debut Dagger: sponsored by Orion, and open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. The winner will receive a £500 cash prize plus a night for two at the Waldorf Hilton, London for the prize-giving at the Dagger Awards Dinner on 29 June. All these shortlisted entrants will receive a generous selection of crime novels and professional assessments of their entries, and will also be invited to the Dagger Awards Dinner. This year the chair of the judging panel is crime novelist Margaret Murphy.

Other awards

  • The Ellis Peters Historical Award: sponsored by the estate of Ellis Peters and her publishers, Headline and the Time Warner Book Group, carries a prize of £3000. The winner in 2010 was Philip Kerr for If The Dead Rise Not Published by Quercus.
  • The CWA Short Story Award: this prize of £500, is sponsored by the membership of the CWA. This competition is open to any crime short story first published in the UK in English in a publication that pays for contributions, or broadcast in the UK in return for payment. The winner in 2010 was Can You Help Me Out Here by Robert Ferrigno published by MIRA UK.


The CWA has produced many collections of crime writing (mainly fiction, but occasionally including true crime). The editor of the CWA anthology since 1996 has been Martin Edwards. In 2003 he edited a special collection, Mysterious Pleasures, to celebrate the CWA's Golden Jubilee. Original Sins is the 2010 anthology of crime from a distinguished selection of British writers published by Severn House.

See also

External links

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