"In the 1950s, Arthur Koestler campaigned for the abolition of capital punishment, especially through a series of articles in The Observer newspaper and a book Reflections on Hanging (1956)... He decided to set up an annual scheme to award 'creative work in the fields of literature, the arts or sciences by those physically confined'. There was almost no precedent for work by prisoners being judged and rewarded by prominent experts from outside the prison system, but the idea was welcomed by Home Secretary RA Butler. A steering committee was set up, chaired by Koestler's literary agent AD Peters and including the editor of The Observer David Astor. Koestler was reluctant to have the scheme named after him, but the committee insisted... ver the next few years, the scheme expanded rapidly. Arthur Koestler initially paid for the prize money himself, but more funding was soon needed from other sources, and in 1969 the awards were formalised into a charitable trust. The trust went on to be chaired by:
- Sir Hugh Casson, CH, KCVO, RA, artist, architect and president of the Royal Academy (1963-81.
- David Astor, CH, newspaper proprietor (1981-92).
- Sir Stephen Tumim, former Circuit Judge and HM Chief Inspector Of Prisons (1992-2003).
- Lord David Ramsbotham, GCB, CBE, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (2003-06).
- Sir Joseph Pilling, KCB, former Director General of the Prison Service (2006 – present).
"When Arthur Koestler died in 1983, he left £10,000 to the Trust." 
- Chief Executive - Tim Robertson (appointed July 2006)
- Honorary President - Lord Ramsbotham - Former Chief Inspector of Prisons
Accessed May 2012: 
- Sir Joseph Pilling, Chair (appointed September 2006) - Former Director General of HM Prison Service and Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office
- Ariane Bankes, Vice Chair – Arts & Education - Freelance writer, niece by marriage of Arthur Koestler
- Herbert Nahapiet, OBE, Vice Chair and Treasurer - Global Market Champion, Sodexo Justice Services
- Peter Bennett - Governor, HMP Grendon
- Benedict Birnberg - Legal advisor
- Nicholas Bowlby - Fine art dealer
- Zelda Cheatle - Photography consultant
- Edward Cullinan - Royal Academician, architect
- Robert Kirby - Director of United Agents
- Dame Anne Owers - Former Chief Inspector of Prisons
- Jonathan Parkhouse - Arts lecturer
- Robert Taylor - Photographer
- Carola Zogolovitch - Artist, daughter of the late Sir Hugh Casson who chaired the Trust for many years
Accessed May 2012: 
- Douglas Dunn
- Mark Eban
- Roger Graef
- Anna Guggenheim, QC
- Sir Martin Jacomb
- Baroness Linklater of Butterstone
- Alan Moses
- Nigel Whiskin, MBE