23 Feb 2020

The woman behind New Zealand's top literary prize

From Standing Room Only, 12:45 pm on 23 February 2020

It's been a closely guarded secret, but the anonymous donor behind the country's richest literary prize is anonymous no longer.   Jann Medlicott, a retired radiologist from the Bay of Plenty, has stepped into the spotlight, ensuring that the prize is no longer funded at the whim of corporate sponsors.

In 2016 Jann worked with the Acorn Foundation that promotes philanthropy, to offer a 50-thousand-dollar prize for the winner of the Ockham NZ Book Awards Fiction category.

Jann set it up to continue in perpetuity.  Not only that - the prize money increases each year in line with wage inflation, so this year the winner will receive 55-thousand. 

Until now the donor was appreciated but unknown.  Jann Medlicot tells Lynn Freeman that a recent brush with ill health is partly behind her decision to end her anonymity.