Our History

The Rebecca Swift Foundation was set up as a UK registered charity in 2018 in memory of Rebecca Swift, the pioneering founder of The Literary Consultancy.  This unique award seeks to honour Rebecca’s two key passions: poetry and the empowerment of women.

Rebecca was a prolific writer, and a great lover of poetry. Her biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives, was published in 2011 with Hesperus Press, and she wrote poetry throughout her life. Her collection A Suitable Love Object was published posthumously by Valley Press in 2020, and became a National Poetry Day recommendation in 2021.

She was also a Trustee of the Maya Centre, a charity supporting vulnerable women in Islington through psychodynamic counselling, and a vocal supporter of their mental health therapy programmes which focus on enabling women to heal through learning to tell their stories.

Rebecca was always very clear that her wish for TLC, as for the Foundation, was to shift the emphasis away from 'outcomes' that focussed on publication, and instead to maximise vital creative space for poets within a supported environment, giving them the opportunity to explore their writing and develop their poetic voice and their central sense of self, as well as improving skills through the learning modules, combining the holistic with the practical and allowing the poetry, and the poets, to flourish.

The Women Poets' Prize has supported two cohorts of prize-winners to date, and we have received applications from a diverse range of over 1,000 women poets from across the UK. In doing so, we have learned a great deal about what women poets need in order to thrive. Our findings* and our commitment to continued dialogue with women poets underpin our commitment to advocacy and practical action in support of their creativity, wellbeing, and careers.