Founded in 1963 as a memorial to the founder and first Chairman of the publishing firm Faber & Faber. The prize is awarded annually, alternating between recognizing a volume of verse and a volume of fiction. It is given to "that volume of verse or prose fiction first published originally in this country [the UK] during the two years preceding the year in which the award is given which is, in the opinion of the judges, of the greatest literary merit." The 1964 prize was for poetry.
The winner must be under 40 years of age and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland or South Africa.
The three judges are reviewers nominated by editors or literary editors of newspapers and magazines which regularly review poetry and fiction. The value of the prize is £1000.