31st March 2006


Please note - this is a starter page only! I have a substantial amount of IFA information derived from fanzines, magazines and  provided by Leslie Flood which will be presented here as soon possible.

The IFA was a British award for excellence within the sf/fantasy field; a precursor of the Hugo Award, it was originally devised and promoted by  John Wyndham, Frank Cooper, G Ken Chapman and Leslie Flood. (Scroll down for an early article on the IFA by Leslie Flood.)

The first awards were made at the British annual convention of 1951- the Festivention, held in London and named after the then-current Festival of Britain.

The awards were made on the decision of a panel of selected experts in the field - as is the case with most modern literary prizes -  not by a popular vote as is the case with the US-originated Hugo awards.

The award continued - never wholly embedded into the British sf culture - until 1957. The last winner was JRR Tolkien, for LORD OF THE RINGS, and the award was presented at a special meeting of the SF Luncheon Club held during the period of the 1957 London World SF Convention. The presentation was not open to the general membership of the convention.

It is said that the IFA was never designed to be a 'popular' award, in the sense that it was the judgement of the masses that counted, and while there is a lot to be said in favour of the 'informed expert committee' approach one wonders with hindsight whether that did not in fact lead to the award's demise, as there seems to have been little popular support or even interest in it from the general population of British fandom or the wider sf-reading community. The fact that the awards were presented at closed invitation-only events may well have alienated many science-fiction enthusiasts of the day.


Forrest J Ackerman receives the award on behalf of George R Stewart from G Ken Chapman



An example of the IFA




Arthur C Clarke receives the award for EXPLORATION OF SPACE.
L-R - Frank Cooper ??, John Carnell, Clarke, Ken Chapmen, Leslie Flood


Leslie Flood at head of table (Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin - guests between Sam Youd/John Christopher and Ken Chapman.)
ondon sf convention.


Fantasy Center, Sicilian Avenue, London, 1952. Brian Aldiss at left.



Les Flood


Leslie Flood in his Sicilian Avenue bookshop, Fantasy Centre, an important place for the British sf community of the Fifties and Sixties. It was also a record shop!

IFA Winners -
please note only 1951-1953 had both fiction and non-fiction awards.

1951: Earth Abides - George R. Stewart
The Conquest of Space - Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell

1952: Fancies And Goodnights - John Collier
The Exploration of Space - Arthur C Clarke

1953: City - Clifford D Simak
Lands Beyond - L Sprague De Camp and Willy Ley

1954: More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon

1955: A Mirror for Observers - Edgar Pangborn

1957: Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien 

An early article on the IFA -
from NEW WORLDS 15, May 1952




In this article by the Secretary of the International Fantasy Award Fund readers will find complete up-to-the-minute information on the progress made during the past twelve months and an explanation of just what the Fantasy Awards means.

This is not a eulogy for the late master of fantasy A. Merritt, although connoisseurs who have savoured his works may well consider this title as apt an introduction for the International Fantasy Award. Indeed, as editor of The American Weekly, and among the foremost of early fantasy authors to set a high literary standard, I feel that Abraham Merritt would have bestowed his blessing on such a venture, now in its second year, with the announcement of the Award winners for 1952, shortly to be made.

As it is, the reception given to the first International Awards - surprise item at the International Science Fiction Convention held in London last May - has ranged from enthusiastic acclaim through sharp criticism to dubious scepticism, and, in view of such a state of affairs, it is to be hoped that this brief outline of the aims and tasks of the Fantasy Award Committee, together with a résumé of its achievements to date, will serve to ally the interest and sympathy of all readers of fantasy and science-fiction, and to promote the active participation of those, including authors, publishers and reviewers, who have at heart the advancement of literary fantasy in all its aspects.

Literary awards have long been attractions for men and women of letters, and such plums as the Hawthornden Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial or the ultimate Nobel Prize for Literature, have set the crowning seal on the careers of famous authors. The Hollywood “Oscar” is a major event in the film world, and even the thriller writers of America chase their “Edgar.” What more natural, then, than to honour the best work of the year in the field of published fantasy? This has long been the happy hunting ground of the few enthusiasts, now widening into popular acclaim, in keeping with this modem age of scientific miracles and future aspirations?

Even so, the idea had not been put into practice when the birth of the International Fantasy Award combusted spontaneously, as it were, during a conversation among four habituees of the London Circle at the White Horse Tavern one Thursday evening in April 1951. The originators responsible for this apparently momentous contribution to fantasy recognition happened also to be directors of the British fantasy magazine publishers Nova Publications, namely John Beynon Harris, noted author; G. Ken Chapman, well-known afiionado and fantasy bookman; Frank A. Cooper, instigator of many active facets of British fantasy, and myself.

From that moment until the first public announcement at the Convention a few weeks later, development of the scheme was precipitous, and perhaps, from the superior viewpoint of subsequent scrutiny, somewhat incomplete. However it was felt that the first International Convention would be admirable for the inauguration of the Award, particularly as the winners of the 1951 Awards both transpired to be Americans, and a renowned figure of the American fantasy world, Forrest J. Ackerman, would be present at the occasion to accept on behalf of his compatriots the practical evidence of the Awards. For the event, it was only possible in the time available to have ready a facsimile of the actual Award trophies. These were made later by an expert model-maker, and took the form of the traditional space-ship -  chromium-plated and mounted on a polished oak plinth for the major fiction award, and bronze mounted on mahogany for the non-fiction award - complete with matching Ronson table lighters and suitably inscribed, the whole approximately 20 inches high. They were later on view at book centres in London, before being despatched to their future owners.

For the benefit of those to whom knowledge of the Fantasy Awards is quite new, I will repeat the results of the 1951 International Fantasy Awards. The prize for the best work of fiction, with a basis of fantasy, from a literary aspect and in accordance with the vote of the self-appointed selection committee, and published in 1950, was awarded to Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart of California, U.S.A. The book was first published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz in 1950 although it had appeared in America the previous year from Random House, and therefore eligible in the opinion of the committee at that time. The prize for the best work of non-fiction, with a basis of fantasy, was given to Willy Ley’s The Conquest of Space, in collaboration with artist Chesley Bonestell, both of U.S.A., which again, although first published in Great Britain in 1950 by Sidgwick & Jackson, had previously appeared in America from the Viking Press.

The International Fantasy Award was now a fait accomplt. The enthusiastic reception of the scheme itself at the Convention, and the general recognition of the winners as unanimously meritorious - the international circumstances of the choices being extremely fortunate - proved ample recompense to the sponsors who had themselves undertaken the financing of the project - although subsequent donations from interested well-wishers are gratefully acknowledged. Publicity releases and photographs of the actual Awards were circulated to book and magazine publishers, literary periodicals, prominent personalities in the fantasy world, fans and amateur editors, as widely as possible in Britain and America.

It is to deal with subsequent misconceptions that I am now publicising the activities of the Award Committee, and giving details of the current 1952 Awards now nearing completion - the results of which it is hoped will be announced at the forthcoming London Science-Fiction Convention on May 31st and June 1st.

Considerable publicity has been given the Awards on both sides of the Atlantic and our thanks are due to the perceptive editors for their assistance. One sharp criticism appeared in an article by Anthony Boucher in the New York Herald-Tribune, however. This was the result of a misunderstanding, since amicably cleared up, concerning a scheme introduced by the Committee for the purpose of obtaining funds for the continuance expansion of the Awards, which, although non-profit making, should not allowed in all fairness to be a perpetual burden on the original sponsors. The idea was, for our American friends, a dollar-a-throw competition which entailed listing in order of preference their own six choices, with prizes amounting to $25.00 offered to the three winners placing the books correct order of merit as revealed by the adjudicators’ final selection.

The error which crept in was that this statement inferred that anyone who contributed a dollar automatically became an adjudicator. I am therefore emphasising that this is not so and that the judging of the Award will be made by a responsible panel of experts, whose names appear in this article. The competition idea as indicated, however, has been withdrawn. I need hardly add that ordinary philanthropic donations will as in the past, gratefully welcomed.

All this, however, is comparatively unimportant. The main question that has been asked, and which is still the most important factor of all, is who will be the judges of what are the best works of fiction and non-fiction of 1951 in the fantasy field ? Who are the best-suited people to state categorically that a certain book was the best literary achievement in fantasy published last year, worthy of an Award that could conceivably influence the sales of that book, and certainly enhance the reputation of the author? To find the answer to that problem the Award Committee immediately realised that the adjudicating panel would also have to be international, because only the combined knowledge of experts from many countries would give a truly representative result.

I therefore have pleasure in announcing that the following well-known personalities actively connected with many literary aspects of fantasy fiction have been invited to join the Adjudicating Panel, and, as of this writing, most of them have already accepted.

Great Britain -   J. M. WALSH -noted mystery writer, fantasy bibliophile, and former science-fiction author. JOHN CARNELL - editor of New Worlds and Science-Fantasy, and forthcoming anthologist. WALTER GILLINGS - one-time editor of Tales of Wonder, Fantasy, and former editor of Science-Fantasy. WALTER A. WILLIS - fandom’s leading expert and critic. FRED C. BROWN - noted London bibliophile.

France   - GEORGES GALLET - Leading Parisian editor and publisher. Theodore maslowski - fantasy book critic for Mystere Magasin.

United States – ANTHONY BOUCHER and J. FRANCIS McCOMAS (jointly), as editors of Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction, both noted connoisseurs, critics and anthologists. EVERETT   F. BLEILER - leading anthologist and bibliophile. GROFF CONKLIN - well-known anthologist and book reviewer. BASIL DAVENPORT - literary critic of the New York Times and Book-of- the-Month Club. AUGUST DERLETH - outstanding anthologist, author and book reviewer. JUDITH MERRIL - leading woman fantasy author and editor.

Sweden – SIGVARD OSTLUND - foremost Scandinavian fantasy bibliophile.

In addition, the following three judges will not be participating upon the panel this year, as they have books eligible for the Awards JOHN BEYNON HARRIS (Britain) - noted author. WILSON TUCKER (U.S.A.) - mystery writer and noted critic, WILLY LEY (U.S.A.) - scientist, author and fantasy expert, who will cover German publications.

To return to the 1951 Awards for a moment, I will state that the original committee of four, limited as it was, but with the advice and help of such fantasy experts as John Carnell, did, by virtue of their combined experience and personal good taste, manage to produce worthy winners of that year’s Awards. The modest advent of the Fantasy Award, however, could not be allowed to continue upon what might have been construed as a partisan basis, plus the fact that interest in the project had quickly moved into an international bracket. Even though we now have many of the foremost experts upon the Adjudicating Panel, it is hoped that their ranks will be strengthened and improved as circumstances and opportunities arise.

Meanwhile, the actual working Committee of the project consists of the three original members, Chapman, Cooper and myself, responsible for the financial arrangements, publicity and correspondence. To clear up the question of which books will he eligible, it has been decided that the following conditions must apply: The work of fiction shall be a complete novel, or series of stories by the same author (mixed anthologies are therefore excluded), which is first published in book form in any country during 1951. Thus, a story which has seen print earlier in a magazine, perhaps serialised, and subsequently reprinted as a book, more often than not revised or rewritten, is eligible. A new edition of an earlier book is not.

The definition of “fantasy” as an “image-making faculty, mental image; fantastic design; whimsical speculation” admittedly covers everything from the fairy tale to the fantasy of science-fiction; however, I feel that the selection of fantasy books eligible for the Award can confidently be left to the wisdom of the judges.

Eligibility of the non-fiction Award is more difficult to define, even ignoring the black-and-white logic of “non-fiction” being, perforce, “fact.” Here the qualification shall be that which attempts to illustrate, or could influence, the progress of scientific or sociological development. In other words, imaginary extrapolations of known facts or accepted theories.

The Award trophies for 1952 will be similar to those for 1951, classically simple, but nevertheless handsome and valuable, and it is to be hoped that sufficient financial support will be forthcoming to maintain the high standard already set, and to establish a sound foundation for the future. The address for the International Fantasy Award is c/o 52 Stoke Newington Road, London, N.16, and donations made out to the Hon. Secretary—”L. Flood,” crossed “Fantasy Award A/c.”