FUNDING KNOWHOW Royal Literary Fund

What can you do when you need a little help? Our Funding KnowHow series continues with KnowHow editor Eleanor Pender taking a look at The Royal Literary Fund and their support available for published writers.

Writing can be hard going. Finding time to write around work, family and other commitments, to keep the plates spinning and keep going is tough. But what can you do when the unexpected happens, when money to cover the necessary forces us to make difficult choices? Whether it's ill health or the unpredictable job market, anything can happen. In this week’s KnowHow, we take a look at The Royal Literary Fund, who support published writers facing these situations.

What is the Royal Literary Fund?
The Royal Literary Fund (RLF) is a UK charity that has been helping authors since 1790. It provides grants and pensions to writers in financial difficulty, and it also places writers in universities to help students develop their writing. The Royal Literary Fund is funded exclusively by bequests and donations from writers and others who wish to help writers. They also provide pensions for older writers who have seen their earnings decrease. Their work helps around 200 writers every year.

Applying for RLF help
You can apply for help from the RLF if you have had several works published in the UK for a general readership, without publication being subsidised by you or others, and are suffering financial hardship. Self-published authors are not eligible. Note that the application form requests details of all income and expenditure. Applicants are requested to send copies of published work with the completed application.

Applicants are considered by the RLF committee for literary merit before being considered for an award. The committee meets 11 times a year to consider applications. A decision on literary merit and on the award of a grant/pension is made at the same meeting, and the applicant is informed of the result straightaway. To apply, you need to request an application form.

The Royal Literary Fellowship
Royal Literary Fund Fellowships offer professional writers the opportunity to work for two days a week in a university helping students to develop their writing skills.

Run in partnership with higher education institutions throughout the UK, fellowships are set up for 36 weeks during the academic year typically from around mid-September to mid-May. During term-time, a fellow commits to being available for contact with students on two regular days a week. The contract for the fellowship is managed through the RLF and works in a similar way to a freelance contract, with the Fellow responsible for tax and National Insurance.

Fellowship Eligibility
The Fellowship is designed for
  • professional, published writers of literary merit 
  • with at least two sole-authored books – of any genre – already published (including mainstream theatre works performed or scripts broadcast). 
  • native speakers of English and residents in the UK or Ireland at the time of application. 
If you are interested in finding out more, recruitment is currently open for posts starting in autumn 2021. For more details, visit the Royal Literary Fund website.

Alongside the Royal Literary Fund, there are many good funding grants available and this KnowHow series will dig a little deeper into the options out there. You never know which one may turn out to be the ideal fit for you and your work.

Main image by Helloquence on Unsplash

Based in Bristol, Eleanor lectures in digital communications and chairs YA and middle-grade events at festivals including Bath Children's Literature Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, and YALC. She is currently working on a young adult fantasy novel. Find her on Twitter at @twice_ell.


Do you have any suggestions for KnowHow? If there's something you'd like to know how to do or know more about, tell us. Email KnowHow editor, Eleanor at

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