The Judges

The Desmond Elliott Prize celebrated its fifth anniversary with a panel of judges chaired by one of Desmond Elliott’s own protégés, the critically acclaimed author Sam Llewellyn. He was joined on the 2012 panel by Tom Gatti, Deputy Editor of The Times’ Review section and Caroline Mileham, Head of Books at

When publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott died in August 2003, he stipulated that his estate should be invested in a charitable trust that would fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”. The Desmond Elliott Prize was launched in 2008 and has subsequently awarded £40,000 to four debut novelists.

Sam Llewellyn, whose first five novels were published by Desmond Elliott, comments:

“I remember Desmond with great affection, and I’m delighted to have been asked to be Chairman of the judges in this the fifth year of the Prize. He was enormously encouraging to me as a new writer. It is a real delight to have the chance to pass on some of that enthusiasm to other new writers through the prize that bears his name.”

About the judges

Sam Llewellyn (Chair) 

Sam Llewellyn has worked as a novelist, columnist and editor ever since Desmond Elliott commissioned his first novel in 1976. His work is informed by a life-long obsession with the sea, which has taken him all over the world in boats large and small. Several of his books are set in his native Isles of Scilly. His children’s books include the Little Darlings series, written as an antidote to Peter Pan; and the Lyonesse series, a reimagining of the Arthurian canon set during the sinking of the British Atlantis. He is a contributor of articles about travel, gardens and boats to the Daily Telegraph. His columns in yachting magazines are read by a quarter of a million people every month. His column in Hortus, ‘Britain’s most intelligent gardening magazine’ attracts a steady fan mail, some of it from dukes. He is Editor and Publisher of the Marine Quarterly, a journal of the sea.

Tom Gatti

Tom Gatti joined The Times in 2003 and is currently Deputy Editor of the Saturday Review section. He also writes book reviews, interviews and arts features for the paper. He has judged the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize and chaired events at the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature and The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. 

Caroline Mileham

Caroline Mileham is Head of Books at She started her career on the Buying team at Waterstone’s Head Office and went on to become the company’s Fiction and Non-Fiction Manager, responsible for all central buying and promotions for these areas. She moved to Borders as Head of Books in 2005 and spent two years there before moving to her current role at