New $5,000 Christian Literary Award Established

TORONTO, Nov. 24 /CNW/ - A new literary prize for Canadian Christian writers will be the largest of its kind. The $5,000 award, established to honour the late author Grace Irwin, will celebrate the best book published in 2009 by a Canadian author who writes from a Christian worldview. Entry deadline is January 15, 2010.

The award is administered by The Word Guild, a national association of more than 350 Canadian writers and editors. The prize donors are Irwin's nephew and spouse, John and Eleanor Irwin.

Contenders for the Grace Irwin Award will include all shortlisted finalists in fiction and nonfiction book categories in The Word Guild's annual Canadian Christian Writing Awards. A separate round of independent judging will determine the inaugural prizewinner, which will be announced on June 16, 2010, at a black-tie awards gala.

The new award will help the careers of gifted writers, bring more attention to Christian writers in Canada, and generate increased book sales.

The late Grace Lilian Irwin was a trailblazing writer who published both fiction and nonfiction. She passed away in September 2008 at age 101, after a vibrant life as an author, Classics scholar and ordained minister.

During her 38-year career teaching English, Latin and Greek at Humberside Collegiate Institute in Toronto, she spent her summers writing at her cottage in Haliburton, Ontario. Her first and best-known novel, Least of All Saints, was published in 1952 by McLelland & Stewart. Seven additional books were published in a 50-year period, including a dramatized biography of John Newton, Servant of Slaves, which was praised by a University of Toronto review as the best historical novel of 1961.

The Word Guild conferred Grace Irwin with the Leslie K. Tarr Award in 2002 for outstanding career contribution to Christian writing and publishing in Canada. Other Tarr Award recipients include Governor General's Literary Award winners Margaret Avison and Rudy Wiebe.

The Irwin family believes that creating a juried prize is an important step in expanding public recognition for writing by Christians. M. Eleanor Irwin, PhD, is a retired associate professor of Latin and Greek at University of Toronto Scarborough. John W. Irwin formerly owned a Canadian educational publishing house. John's four decades of church and community volunteerism include serving on the board of Christian Info Canada, the parent organization of The Word Guild.


For further information: For further information: see or phone (519) 886-4196

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