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Competition invites aspiring young writers with time on their hands to imagine the past – Friday April 24, 2020

The prestigious Young Walter Scott Prize, a UK-wide historical writing prize for 11-19 year olds is open for entries.

Budding writers that have found themselves with more time on their hands since the Coronavirus outbreak, have a golden opportunity to explore the historical novelist within. The prize challenges young people to write a piece of short fiction set in a time before they were born.

The winners receive a £500 travel grant and a 2-day trip to the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland where they are presented with their prizes. All winning and highly commended writers see their work published in the special YWSP anthology and runners-up in each age category receive a book token.

Stories of between 800 and 2000 words can now be submitted until the closing date of 31st October 2020.  Entries are judged in two age groups – 11 to 15 years and 16 to 19 years. Any kind of fiction is accepted – prose, poetry, drama, fictional letters or reportage. Full details of how to enter can be found at

The judges of the YWSP are– the Duchess of Buccleuch, novelist Elizabeth Laird, the Director of the Young Walter Scott Prize Alan Caig Wilson, arts journalist David Robinson and Literary Agent Kathryn Ross.

The judges said:

‘When we first had the idea of establishing a competition for young writers, there was some uncertainty about whether there was any appetite out there for writing historical fiction. But right from the start the response – which grows every year – indicated that this was an opportunity for which many young writers had been longing.  The challenge is to make the story true to its time, true to the facts of that period of history, and also appealing to a contemporary reader’

This year’s winner of the YWSP 16-19 age group was Charlotte Lee (19), from Crewe with The Best Thing, a refreshingly original story about the invention of a machine for slicing bread. Ide Crawford  (14), from Macclesfield took the top prize in the 11-15 Years category with her ‘tour de force’ The Whale’s Way, inspired by folk songs from the North-East of England, about the sea, Arctic whaling, and the press gang.

The Young Walter Scott Prize was launched in 2015 by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, and is named after Sir Walter Scott, who as a boy sent to live in the Scottish Borders, set about exploring the countryside and listening to the stories of the people he met there. This inspired him to write, and to later become the most celebrated author of his time. The YWSP has an association with the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Alongside the creative writing competition, a programme of Imagining History workshops is run all over the UK by Prize Director Alan Caig Wilson offering groups of young people a unique opportunity to explore sites and buildings of historical interest. Due to the current need for social distancing the programme has had to be suspended, however, further information about when it restarts will be available on the Young Walter Scott website.

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