Since 1996, the Prize has awarded £10,000 to original works written in (or translated into) English on subjects relating to or inspired by Greece or Hellenic culture which were published during the preceding calendar year.

The deadline for submissions is invariably 31 January, and the winner is announced in late June, both here and in the Times Literary Supplement.

Subjects are unrestricted and the Prize’s Adjudicating Committee invariably read books submitted from the full spectrum of writing: archaeology, architecture, art, classics, history, literary criticism, religion, social studies, as well as fiction. Winners invariably appeal to a broad readership.

There are no boundaries on nationality either. Each competition invariably receives multiple submissions from over 50 publishers and individual authors dotted across the globe, from Los Angeles to Sydney and London, Amsterdam and Athens in between, to give just a flavour of the Prize’s international reach and substance.

This was all the brainchild of two Greek shipowners based in London. John A. Hadjipateras OBE was the long-standing Chairman of the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee for eighteen years. John D. Criticos has spent many years building up his shipping firm in Argentina (?) before settling in London in the 1950s. Criticos devoted himself to long-lasting charitable works in both Britain and his native Greece, continued and enhanced, after his death, by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Criticos-Fotinelli. It was after John D. Criticos that the Prize was initially named.

Criticos chose to entrust the administration of this Prize to the London Hellenic Society, a prestigious cultural society established in London in the 1960s by prominent members of the London Greek community, in which he himself played a leading part.

The LHS developed from the long and distinguished activity of the Greek diaspora in England since the late 18th century. London has always been at the epicentre of commercial, political and cultural exchange. Dimitris Vikelas, the novelist and Bloomsbury-based shipping executive, played a major role in organising the First Olympic Games of 1896. Domini Crosfield (nee Iliadi) provided a matchless halfway house in Highgate for David Lloyd George and Eleftherios Venizelos to sketch out the Treaty of Sevres which would end the First World War with the Ottoman Empire. Only a few years later, Venizelos would marry the notable philanthropist Helena Schilizzi before taking up residence in Mayfair. In recent years, George Rodopoulos (President of the LHS), Michael Moschos (Vice-President) and Dino Caroussis (Treeasurer) have steered the Prize in the wake of this distinguished activity.

At a time when both Greece and Britain are questioning their place in Europe, the London Hellenic Prize must continue, unwaveringly, to showcase the brilliant results of the cross-fertilisation or fusion of different but inextricably interconnected European cultures. And as the Prize enters its twentieth year, we hope that John D. Criticos’ cultural project strengthens the essential nature of education and communication among Europeans and increases understanding of our shared Hellenic heritage.