Official website of award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon 


Polari Paul
Polari Paul

Image by Justin David

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Celia Imrie & Fidelis Morgan
Celia Imrie & Fidelis Morgan

Polari at Southbank

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Jake Arnott
Jake Arnott

Polari at Southbank

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Polari Paul
Polari Paul

Image by Justin David

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In these uncertain times, you can support Polari’s vital work by buying us a coffee HERE


There are now three categories in the Polari Prize awards 2022 – for debut, non-debut and childrens / YA books.


The shortlists will be announced on Sep 1 (adult books) and Sep 10 (childrens and YA) , with a special shortlist showcase event at our new home at The British Library on Sep 15.

For further details, please see Upcoming Events.

This year’s awards ceremony will be in November, at The British Library.


For more info, see Polari Prize



In October 2021, Polari completed its largest tour to date, supported by a grant from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts. Originally planned as a 22 date tour, the tour included 25 dates, many of them online as a result of the pandemic. 

The Polari Prize Tenth Anniversary Tour showcased writers nominated for the 2020 and 2021 Polari Prize awards for emerging and established LGBTQ+ literary talent, in addition to winners from the Prize’s proud ten year history, dating back to 2011. 

The tour kicked off at Huddersfield Literature Festival in March 2020 and ended on October 30 2021 when the latest Prize winners were announced as part of the London Literature Festival. 

The tour also included events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Manchester and at London’s famous nightclub Heaven and legendary LGBTQ+ venue The RVT.


Founded by author Paul Burston, Polari began in 2007 in a bar in Soho.


In 2009, we moved to London’s Southbank Centre.


Since 2014, we’ve also toured regularly, funded by Arts Council England.

We’ve appeared in bars and clubs, at book festivals, libraries, museums and theatres.


We also host events online.

There’s a brief history of Polari on our YouTube channel HERE 

There’s a history of our touring activities HERE

There’s a history of The Polari Prize HERE

For a taste of recent events, you can listen to the Polari podcast HERE

Writers and performers who’ve appeared at Polari include Adele Anderson, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Jake Arnott, Neil Bartlett, Dustin Lance Black, John Boyne, Russell T Davies, Juno Dawson, Maureen Duffy, Stella Duffy, Carey Wood-Duffy, Janet Ellis, Cerys Evans, Bernardine Evaristo, Patrick Gale, Rosie Garland, Nikita Gill, Salena Godden, Niven Govinden, Garth Greenwell, Alexis Gregory, Saleem Haddad, Mari Hannah, Philip Hensher, Celia Imrie, Juliet Jacques, Keith Jarrett, Jackie Kay, VG Lee, Kirsty Logan, David McAlmont, John McCullough, Val McDermid, Karen McLeod, Andrew McMillan, Paul McVeigh, Charlotte Mendelson, Fiona Mozley, Musa Okwonga, Okechukwu Nzelu, Diriye Osman, Juno Roche, Ali Smith, Diana Souhami, Andrea Stuart, Joelle Taylor, Tracey Thorn, Paula Varjack, Sophie Ward, Sarah Waters and Mohsin Zaidi.

Polari was named Cultural Event of the Year in the Co-op Respect Loved By You Awards 2013.

“Always fun, always thought-provoking – a guaranteed great night out” – Sarah Waters

“Lively, funny and inspiring – a gay-themed salon of interest to anyone remotely interested in literature, whatever their sexual bent” – Patrick Gale




Oct 1 - Polari at Capital Crime

With Beth Lewis, Francesca May, Alex Reeve and AJ West.

Oct 10 - Polari Prize Shortlist Showcase at The British Library. 7.15pm. 

With Neil Bartlett, Elizabeth Chakrabarty and Joelle Taylor (pictured above).

FREE but you must book. 

Oct 11 - Polari at John The Unicorn Peckham. 7pm. £8 (£6 early bird SOLD OUT) or £10 on the door.

With David Hodge (formerly Miss Dusty O) and Golnoosh Nour (pictured below).

 Nov 15 - Polari Prize Night at the British Library. 7pm. £5-£10.

Full lineup to be announced, but expect past prize winners, the announcement of this year's prize-winning writers and a musical finale!


"The most exciting literary movement in London... crackling with energy, ideas, excitement"



For enquiries, please contact

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