Society Awards and Scholarships

The Society, in furtherance of its aims to support study related to the life and works of Dorothy L. Sayers, currently makes a number of renewable annual awards. These are held by young people at the beginning of their careers. Our annual awards are as follows.

The Dorothy L. Sayers Music Award

This award was instituted in 2005.  Our first holder was Helena Buckie, who held the award for five years to support her studies in violin and trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama during which time, Helena performed regularly at Society events. 

Latterly, our award holders have been studying at the Royal College of Music.

Other previous holders are:

  • Joy Becker (violinist)

  • Sofia Kolupov (violinist)

  • Tiara Ataii (singer)

  • Bibiana Viazzini (singer)

  • Almida Lile (violinist)

The Dorothy L. Sayers Actors’ Award

This award was instituted in 2006, in conjunction with the Theatre Centre.

Theatre Centre was founded in 1953 by Brian Way. Dorothy L Sayers became involved at a very early stage after seeing “an astonishingly good potted production” of her radio series The Man Born to be King. She immediately joined the Management Committee and donated £200. She wrote to her friend Norah Lambourne: “I have gone into management in a small way!!…Brian Way is quite a remarkable producer…and he and Margaret Faulkes are…keen and businesslike. They started the whole show on twopence ha’penny of their own…but they have just discovered that twopence ha’penny won’t really run productions and pay rent…so thinking they were worth helping, I said I would finance them for a year and see how they got on. The poor dears quite goggled with pleasure and surprise and I felt a blooming benefactor.”

At our birthday lunch at Balliol College to celebrate the birthday of DLS in June, 2019, we were entertained by our current award winner, Ben Welford, who read a selection of texts by DLS. We were delighted that Ben could be with us.

Previous award holders have been:

  • Marcy Oni

  • Sam Donovan

  • Robert Solar

  • Michael Lyle

  • Clare Chater

  • Imogen Rose

  • Kimisha Lewis

  • Sam Kacher

  • Jordan Bamford

  • Ben Welford


The Dorothy L. Sayers Young Lady’s Bell Ringer’s Award

This award was instituted in 2009 in conjunction with the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers.

Dorothy L. Sayers’ novel The Nine Tailors, centres on bell ringing.  Although DLS worked hard to master the intricacies of bell ringing for the novel she confessed, in a letter dated 25 October, 1936:

“I am so glad that my book [The Nine Tailors] has been so kindly received by the Bellringers and Bellfounders. I am afraid I have to confess that I really know nothing of bellringing and have never even seen a peal rung!” (Letter to C.F. Johnston, 25 October, 1936, The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist, edited by Barbara Reynolds, Hodder & Stoughton, 1995)

Kaitlin Jarvis together with previous winner, Emily

Kaitlin Jarvis together with previous winner, Emily

Previous winners have been:

  • Chloë Guthrie

  • Felicity Lister

  • Emily Davies

  • Kaitlin Jarvis

  • Rebecca Stuttard

  • Carmen Wright

Here is our report about the award from 2016 (from Bulletin number 248, November, 2016)

“30th September: presentation of 2016 Young Lady Bell Ringer’s Award in Sevenoaks, Kent

A small group of members gathered in the church of St Mary the Virgin at Kemsing, near Sevenoaks, Kent, which had been, for one year, the curacy of R F Benson the son of E W, Archbishop, and brother to E F Benson (Lucia stories) and A H (writer). On this occasion we were gathered to present the DLS Bellringers’ Award to Rebecca Stuttard and to give a short reading from The Nine Tailors. There then followed a period of ringing on the eight beautiful bells at the church, during which we members adjourned across the road to enjoy a meal in The Bell.”

23rd September 2015: Ringer’s Award (RING-A-DING-DING) Ten DLSS members ventured to Harefield in the wilds of Middlesex for the presentation of the DLSS award for young female bell ringers at the church of St Mary the Virgin. Having allowed plenty of travel time so as not to be late, the Essex contingent arrived unfashionably early to check out the church, only to discover that filming was about to start for Harry Price: Ghost Hunter by Bentley Productions. We retreated to the Old Orchard, a local hostelry with a great view over the Grand Union Canal and some lakes, returning later to the church in time to hear some welcome ringing going on. Seona, Hannah and Liz Davey, Chair, Ladies’ Guild of Church bellringers 4 The winner of the award, thirteen-year-old Hannah Williams, is the third generation of a bell ringing family. Our Chairman Seona Ford presented her with a cheque and a CD of Fenchurch St. Paul, and this was followed by a few words of thanks from the President of the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers, Liz Davey. The DLSS members then adjourned back to the Old Orchard for some excellent food and drink. We were particularly delighted to have Chris Simpson with us. Chris has been rather unwell in recent months but has taken responsibility for the bell ringing award for many years, so wanted to be present if possible. Seona Ford & Alison Hall

The Norah Lambourne Design Award

This award was instituted in 2016 in memory of the late theatre, costume and set designer, Norah Lambourne. Norah and Dorothy L. Sayers had a long-lasting friendship and worked together many times on the staging of plays by DLS. In a letter to Norah, dated 10 March, 1949, Dorothy L Sayers told her that she was “extremely thankful” to have Norah “to depend on”. The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1944-1950: A Noble Daring, p.432

The award is made in conjunction with The Royal Opera House Apprenticeship programme in Thurrock, Essex. Apprentice designers at ROH Thurrock are invited to apply for the award.  They can include costume designers, engineers, digital designers, make-up artists, set carpenters, metalworkers and wig makers.

Here is a list of our winners to date

2015/16 Erin Hills – Wigs and Make-Up Apprentice Applied to buy an airbrush compressor and a Zuca bag to help her move around kit in preparation for a career as a freelancer. Many people in the industry use this bag which is durable and so a great investment for a professional wigs and make-up artist.

2016/17 Michael O’Reilly – Scenic Art Apprentice Helped to cover several costs for a mural painting in a dementia unit in Highgate. This received a lot of coverage including an article in the medical journal The Lancet and a visit from Jeremy Corbyn. It helped cover travel costs and allowed him to buy a softening brush that was necessary for the job.

2017/18 Les Hamilton – Scenic Metalwork Apprentice Bought the best cordless drill and grinder that money can buy. He had to put some of his own savings into this, however if he hadn’t won the award he would never have been able to afford these items, which in most work places are compulsory pieces of equipment.

2018/19 Kelly Allen - Scenic Art Apprentice

The winner in 2016, of the inaugural award was Erin Hills, a make-up and wigs apprentice.  Here is the report on the presentation of the award at ROH Covent Garden in July, 2016 (from Bulletin number 247, September, 2016):

13 July: presentation of Norah Lambourne (NL) Design Award at the Royal Opera House.

“In the July Bulletin I detailed the deliberations of the judging panel for the NL Design Award. It was a very difficult task but enormously rewarding. So it was with great pleasure that Geraldine and I made our way again to the Royal Opera House (ROH) to make the presentation. Our award of £500 to Erin Hills, the make-up and wigs apprentice, was first. This was followed by individual awards to each graduating apprentice, with an “award” (a fun object or objects made in-house) that very much represented their character and involvement at the ROH. There was much enjoyment in these presentations and we had a real sense of the camaraderie and commitment that links the young apprentices to their full-time colleagues at the ROH. We were again shown that the sponsorship by the Dorothy L Sayers Society is also very much appreciated.”

The 2017 award was presented to Michael O’Reilly, A Stage Design apprentice.

Other awards not made on an annual basis

The Barbara Reynolds Award

This award was instituted in 2009 to celebrate the contribution of our late President, Dr Barbara Reynolds, who completed Dorothy L. Sayers’ translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy after DLS’s death but who also wrote her biography as well as editing five volumes of the author’s letters. The judging panel, consisting of Christopher Dean, Carolyn Caughey and Geraldine Perriam, read and shortlisted recent works published on Dorothy L. Sayers on themes covering biography, literature, Lord Peter Wimsey and theology.


Entries for the inaugural award were received from Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The winner of the award was Crystal Downing, Professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania for her work Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers.


The award was again open to entries in 2014, the year of Barbara Reynolds’ 100th birthday.  The judging panel was: Professor Anne Loades, Carolyn Caughey of Hodder and Stoughton, Margaret Sangster and Dr Geraldine Perriam.  The panel received twelve entries all of which were academic publications.

DLSS Convention 2015 - Winner Bethany Wood

DLSS Convention 2015 - Winner Bethany Wood

The winner was Bethany Wood for her journal article: ‘Incorporation of the Incar(nation): Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Man Born to Be King’ in Ecumenica: Journal of Theatre and Performance.

A Highly Commended Award was also made to Christine Fletcher for her work: The Artist and the Trinity: Dorothy L. Sayers and the Theology of Work.

In recognition of the anniversary of WWI, an additional award was made to Stacey Gillis for her article: ‘Consoling Fictions: Mourning, World War I and Dorothy L. Sayers’. Although this work was technically ineligible, having been written in 2007 and revised in 2010, the work and its subject was considered to be of such a high standard of such topical interest, that this award was made to Dr Gillis.

Dorothy L. Sayers Architectural Award

This award was made in honour of founding member, the late Mrs Eileen Bushell on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Eileen worked tirelessly to save Dorothy L. Sayers’ house in Witham from demolition and was instrumental in the founding of the Dorothy L. Sayers Society.

The award was presented by Eileen to Emily Hale, who had been recommended to the Society by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), who specialised in stone masonry and brick-laying.