Crime Writers' Association

Last updated
The Crime Writers' Association
Headquarters London
Official language
Maxim Jakubowski
Key people
Antony Johnston, Jean Briggs, Dea Parkin, Sarah Ward

The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) is a specialist authors’ organisation in the United Kingdom, most notable for its Dagger awards for the best crime writing of the year, and the Diamond Dagger awarded to an author for lifetime achievement. [1] The Association also promotes crime writing of fiction and non-fiction by holding annual competitions, publicising literary festivals and establishing links with libraries, booksellers and other writer organisations, both in the UK such as the Society of Authors, and overseas. The CWA enables members to network at its annual conference and through its regional chapters as well as through dedicated social media channels and private website. Members' events and general news items are published on the CWA website which also features Find An Author where CWA members are listed and information provided about themselves, their books and their awards.


The CWA publishes a monthly magazine exclusively for members called Red Herrings, edited by Matthew Booth since 2020.

The CWA runs a sister organisation aimed at readers of crime fiction and non-fiction called the Crime Reader's Association; website Anyone can join free of charge and receive two digital magazines: the bimonthly Case Files and the monthly CRA Newsletter. On the site are blogs, short stories and author profiles.

Terms of membership

Annual membership is open to any author who has had a crime novel published via a traditional publishing contract (or at the discretion of the committee), with associate and corporate membership also offered to individuals and organisations in the publishing industry such as editors, bloggers, literary agents and publishers. Provisional membership is offered to authors who have a contract with a publisher but whose book is not yet published. The CWA enables writers to contact each other by various means, promotes crime writing with annual awards, and organises social events. It also supports writing groups, festivals and literary events through its authors. The main aims of the CWA are to promote the crime genre and to support professional writers. The CWA has been providing social and professional support for its members for more than half a century, as well as running the prestigious Daggers.

In summer every year, the CWA actively promotes National Crime Reading Month: June in 2021.

The CWA was founded by John Creasey in 1953. It is chaired by Linda Stratmann (from April 2019) and has over 800 members. The Secretary of the Crime Writers' Association is currently Dea Parkin, who also runs editorial consultancy Fiction Feedback. Sarah Ward is the Membership Secretary. The day-to-day management of the organisation is by CJAM of Colchester and the CWA's official accountants and registered CWA address are at H W Fisher in William Road, London.

CWA Archives are held at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, N Wales. Archivist is Martin Edwards, who was CWA Chair from January 2017 to April 2019 - the longest-serving CWA chair since John Creasey. Martin is also editor of the CWA's anthology, a collection of stories by members usually published in alternate years.


The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers awards, the "UK's top crime writing awards" [2] were started in 1955, less than two years after the association was founded, with the award of a Crossed Red Herring Award to Winston Graham for The Little Walls .

Over the years the number of CWA Daggers has increased. Eleven Daggers are now awarded annually by the CWA, with Red Herring awards made for those who have made a significant contribution to the CWA or crime writing. The Dagger longlists are traditionally announced at the international literary convention CrimeFest in Bristol in May, the shortlists at a London event in the summer and the winners at a glittering Dagger awards dinner usually held in October in London. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, this schedule has changed. In 2020, the Daggers were held in October live via Zoom, and in 2021 new dates will be April for the longlists, mid May for shortlists and the very end of June/early July for the winner announcements.

Other Daggers


The CWA has produced many collections of crime writing (mainly fiction, but occasionally true crime). The editor of the CWA anthology since 1996 has been Martin Edwards. In 2003, he edited a special collection, Mysterious Pleasures, to celebrate the CWA's Golden Jubilee. Original Sins is the 2010 anthology of crime from a distinguished selection of British writers published by Severn House. In 2013 the CWA Anthology 'Deadly Pleasures' was published and in 2015 an anthology of True Crime stories was released. Mystery Tour was published in December 2018 and Vintage Crime followed in 2020.

See also

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  1. "Crime Writers' Association home page". Crime Writers' Association. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  2. US debut writer wins gold dagger at UK's top crime writing awards