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The John le Carré Scholarship

We are honoured to offer a scholarship in memory of the late John le Carré for one talented writer with low income to join our three-month Writing Your Novel course.
John le Carré (1931-2020)
John le Carré (1931-2020)

The master chronicler of our age, John le Carré’s work has come to define not only the best of spy fiction, but the very colour of our times.

An insightful observer of the human condition and contemporary geopolitics alike, le Carré’s novels are exciting, thought-provoking and touch on both eternal truths and deeply felt issues of the moment. From his breakout 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, to 2017’s bestselling A Legacy of Sins and his final novel, Silverview (to be posthumously published on 14th October 2021 for what would have been his 90th birthday), le Carré’s timeless works have endured and continue to be critically acclaimed and loved by audiences around the world.

The Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency are proud to have represented John le Carré during his lifetime, and to continue to represent his works ongoing. Now, they are establishing an annual scholarship in his memory.

We are honoured to announce the first John le Carré scholarship, providing the full course fee for one talented writer of limited financial means to join our three-month online Writing Your Novel course (6 September 2021 to 13 December 2021). We’ll be looking for a writer whose work demonstrates many of the qualities that were important to John le Carré – we want to find compelling storytelling and political engagement; we’ll be searching for an exciting voice that pushes at or breaks boundaries.

This scholarship is part of The Breakthrough Writers’ Programme, a major new outreach programme which offers opportunities to under-represented writers. We are keen to promote diversity in our student groups and to enable talented writers to join our courses who we might not otherwise have heard from.

The Writing Your Novel three-month online course is designed to enable people to take part from anywhere in the world – in any time zone, and at hours of the day or night that work best for the individual participant. It features direct input from our literary agent team and top publishers.

If you have the desire to write, a great idea and the ambition to want to raise your writing game – and if you’re without the financial means to attend a Curtis Brown Creative course, this opportunity is for you. We are grateful to the Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency for providing this scholarship, and to the family of John le Carré for their support in establishing it. We are excited at the prospect of helping the writing process of a talented new student.

Jonny Geller, CEO of The Curtis Brown Group and agent to John le Carré, says: ‘We are very proud to provide this scholarship for our writing course in David’s name. He was hugely supportive to young writers and wrote beautifully about the craft of writing. The course will enshrine his values and proudly continue his tradition of giving back to the next generation.’

Simon Cornwell, John le Carré’s eldest son, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Ink Factory Productions says: ‘The family is thrilled that CBC and the Curtis Brown Group have created this scholarship in our father’s name. Throughout his life, it was hugely important to our father to nurture writing talent wherever he found it, and he would have been very touched to feel that CBC was marking his memory with support for diverse, emerging and engaged contemporary voices. We are looking forward to reading the work that flows from it!’

Course details


The scholarship is open to people over the age of 18, either:

  • unmarried and not co-habiting with a partner, with an annual (gross, pre-tax) income of less than £25,000 and personal savings of less than £5,000.
  • married or co-habiting with a partner, with a total annual (gross pre-tax) household income of less than £35,000 and personal savings (jointly or individually) of less than £5,000.

If you don’t quite fit our financial criteria but are nonetheless financially challenged, then do apply, explaining your circumstances in the form.


Curtis Brown Creative offers places on our courses on the basis of proven writing ability. We ask applicants to send us the first 3,000 words of a novel in progress, with a one page synopsis, and to fill out our application form. Please note that those with the financial means to attend our courses should not apply to this scholarship. 

The John le Carré Scholarship will be awarded to the applicant whose submission material shows the greatest potential and promise in our view. The decision will be made by the Curtis Brown Creative team.

Head to the blog for tips and advice on preparing your application material. 


  • Applicants to the John le Carré Scholarship must fulfil our eligibility criteria. Our form asks you to make a statement about your financial circumstances and the reason you deserve the scholarship.
  • With respect to the earnings thresholds set out in our eligibility section: for salaried applicants, your current salary at date of application must be under the threshold. For self-employed applicants, your gross pre-tax profits (average figure for the last two financial years) must be under the threshold. State benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance should be counted as income.
  • Applicants may be asked to provide proof of their financial circumstances in support of their scholarship applications.
  • Because the scholarships are open only to those who do not have the means to attend the applicable course without financial assistance, applicants should bear in mind that their application will be considered only for the scholarship places and not for other fee-paying places on the courses.

Applications now closed

Our application process is simple, and we encourage all writers meeting the eligibility criteria to apply.

Don’t worry if you have little or nothing to say in response to questions about e.g. writing experience or employment. Just fill out the form, upload your work and we’ll be in touch soon.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 22 August, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 26 August.  If you encounter any problems during the application process or have any more questions about the courses, please email for assistance.

Please apply with the first 3,000 words of the novel you’d like to work on during the course, and a synopsis of no more than a page (both need to be in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file in the application below).