English: Ellie and Grace Win Bede's Writers' Competition
Ellie Bostock-Smith, Head of English Mr Oliver and Grace Stannard.
The Bede's English department is delighted to announce the shortlisted writers and winners of the Bede’s Writers’ Competition for 2017.
On Wednesday 1 March, the judging panel, comprising Mr Scamardella, Mrs Fraser-Gausden and Mrs Vincent, chaired by Mr Oliver, retired to the salon to whittle down an impressive shortlist for both the Senior and Junior prizes to just two outstanding works.
In the Senior category, Upper Fifth Bloomsbury House student Grace Stannard won first prize for her compelling account of a Tourette’s sufferer overcoming childhood trauma, whilst in the Junior category First Year student and fellow Bloomsbury House pupil Ellie Bostock-Smith scooped the honours with her vividly imagined genre piece, Rebecca Skylark.
Both winners will receive £150 as their prize.
In what proved to be an incredibly close contest in both categories, the judges were hugely impressed by the range of subject matter and the varied literary styles they encountered, as well as each writer’s unique command of language, voice and tone.
Even though all of the pieces stemmed from the same stimulus phrase — ‘The View From Here’ — each writer showed a startlingly fresh take on the theme.
The judges hard at work...
Head of English, Mr Oliver, said of the entries, "We had poems about memory loss, modern technology and nature; we had detective stories, bleak dystopias and tender, teenage romances; we had stories narrated by aliens, by convicts and spirits; we had prose pieces evoking every setting from carparks to cesspits, island ferries to space stations. The range was dazzling."
In the end, the Junior Shortlist consisted of a complex fantasy narrative by Monty Lovegrove, and mature, heartfelt poetry by Freya Palmer, Jessie Bradley and Kier Palin, with a special commendation to Amber Giles.
For Mrs Vincent, “each one of these pieces offered a genuine surprise. All of them were highly readable. The poetry, in particular, seemed so mature and convincing, never seeming trite or cliched.”
For Mrs Fraser-Gausden, however, Ellie’s piece immediately announced itself as a standout entry.
“The language is used with such deftness and care, but real thought had been out into structure too,” she said.
Having been highly commended in the First Year Travel Writing competition earlier this year, it is great to see Ellie persevering and going one better this time.
Our Senior shortlist was, arguably, even more hotly contested.
Rhys Clarke, Owen Maitland-Shadwell and Molly Fisher-Newton all offered highly-crafted and convincing prose pieces, way above the standard that might be expected of any senior school student. Not only did these writers conjure up setting and character with real precision, but they took risks too.
Lillie Skerman’s wonderfully wry take on the travel narrative was also very well-received by the judges, and was the stand-out comic piece of the whole competition, but couldn’t quite edge out the eventual winner.
Of the winning piece, Mr Scamardella said, “It was incredibly mature, and so well-observed. There was a sense that Grace had really put herself in the position of this suffering protagonist”.
All the judges, and the English department, wish to commend all the shortlisted writers for their truly superb writing.
Every shortlisted writer showed huge potential and we will certainly be hearing about them, or reading them in print, very soon.
If you would like to hear more about our shortlisted writers, and hear their work, watch this space for a special competition podcast appearing later this term.
All shortlisted writers will also feature in the Bede’s Writers’ Anthology—due for publication in June this year.