The Young Walter Scott Prize

YWSP 2018 winners Joseph Burton (16-19yrs) and Jenny O’Gorman (11-15yrs) climb the roof of Melrose Abbey

Taking inspiration from our Historical World

Write up to 2,000 words about a time before you were born when the world was recognisably different to the world of today

The Young Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (YWSP) is the UK’s only creative writing competition for teenagers exploring Historical Fiction.

YWSP grew out of the international Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Two past WSP authors, Ann Weisgarber (The Promise, 2014) and Tan Twan Eng (The Garden of Evening Mists, Winner 2015) are amongst our Patrons.

Taking inspiration from Sir Walter Scott, the founders of the Prize asked the question: how can we best inspire and support young adult creative writers to develop an interest in the historical world and at the same d time develop their writing?

YWSP challenges young writers, as the young Walter Scott did, to investigate their history, their world and the stories of their people. It challenges them to roam, explore, research and be courageous in their fiction-writing. Writers do NOT have to have read the works of Sir Walter Scott – although we would heartily recommend that they think about dipping into his writing.

We live in a fast-changing world. Young writers have access to much more information than ever before about their history and the history of others. The Young Walter Scott Prize offers young writers a relevant and important channel for thinking through the past to current events, motivations and consequences.

Since its first opening in 2015, YWSP is growing as a creative destination for young writers. Entries have come from all parts of the UK. The writers represent a true cross-section of the many communities that make up our country – including those who have come to make their homes here in recent times.

So what kinds of things do people write about? Below is a list of writers who have had their stories published in our annual anthologies. From Malaysia to South Carolina, the wild seas of the North Atlantic to Washington DC, our winners, shortlisters and highly commended writers have let their minds roam far. Read for yourself the corners of history and the wide world that they have reached into to find inspiration for their stories. Full stories are available online at www.ywsp.co.uk

2019

11-15yrs

Winner: Ide Crawford from Macclesfield, for The Whale’s Way, set in Whitby with dialogue written in dialect. A young woman waits every day with her new baby, climbing the Hundred Steps to watch for her husband to return from a whaling trip. A perfectly balanced story full of rich imagery. And a twist that never leaves you.

Runner-up: Calypso Lewis from London, for You are Annahok , a brave and epic story told through the experience of a young girl who sees through the lies of Christopher Columbus and his false and fatal promises to the people of an indigenous village.

Runner-up: Lucy Thynne from London, for The Collaborator, the tightly told point-of-view story of a young woman accused at the end of World War 2 in France. How difficult it is to escape crushing power, whatever you do.

Highly commended: Ranuli Jayawardhana from Sunbury-on-Thames, for Undercover Nazi, a daring young woman attempts to defy the power of the most powerful Nazi woman. A powerful story of unexpected resistance.

16 – 19 yrs

Winner: Charlotte Lee from Wistaston, Cheshire; for The Best Thing… an unexpected and uplifting story about Otto who creates a machine and an idea that changes the future. Not that he knows that, he is only nervous about failing his boss.

Runner up: Ellana Cowan from Barnet in Hertfordshire. Vita’s Truth set in Ancient Rome, explores the lives of two sisters who are keepers of the flame of the Goddess Vesta. One takes a chance and breaks all the rules….

Runner-up: Turner Ruggi from London, for Revolutionary , telling a fast-moving story about a conflicted revolutionary activist during the first Russian Revolution dealing with his fear of death.

Highly commended: Daisy Stewart Henderson from Glasgow, for Erinnerung. After the war, after the camps, how do people find a new life? Two sisters and two very different decisions made in the woods of Eastern Poland.

2018

11-15 yrs

  • Winner: Jenny O’Gorman from Edinburgh for Shadow of Hunger,  a sad and beautifully written story of a family trying to escape the Potato Famine in Ireland, mixing poetry and prose.
  • Runner-up: Catherine Fitzhugh from Stewarton, East Ayrshire for Little Matron, an evocative, detailed story of a family at war in Russia during the Napoleonic invasion.

Highly Commended

  • Helena Baxendale from Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire for Transmigration Programme, a story about two young people finding each other and finding hope in war-torn Java in 1942.
  • Frankie Browne from London for Alien Bouncers, inventively telling the story of the confusion of Neil Armstrong’s son as his father becomes the first man on the moon.
  • Jack Tickner from Sturminster Newton in Dorset, for Vive La Revolution, a gripping story of an aristocratic family escaping the terror of the French Revolution.
  • Tiphaine Tsatsaris from London, for C’est la Vie, a story about two Jewish children of the Kindertransport before World War II, trying to make sense of how their lives have changed.
  • Lucas Yates from Woodford Green, Essex for The Soldier’s Civil War, a nightmarish story about a boy soldier’s adventures during the American Civil War.

16-19 yrs

  • Winner: Joseph Burton from Folkestone in Kent for Dust on the Road, a strange mystery adventure set in the Deep South of the United States during the Great Depression.
  • Runner-up: Natasha Mirus from Ringwood in Hampshire for The Station, a quiet and intense story about two people seeking new lives in the months after the end of World War II.

Highly Commended

  • Megan Lintern from Chapmanslade in Wiltshire, for Lest We Forget, an inventive, poetic and fictional biography of an unknown First World War soldier.
  • Andrew Pettigrew from Edinburgh, for The Piper, a story filled with emotion, gritty detail and the sound of bagpipes set in hospital ward and the trenches of World War I.
  • Jonathan Rhys Clark from Chorlton in Manchester, for The Long Sunset, a rich story set in the distant past about the birth of the mediaeval world and how wars come to an end. 
  • Elise Swain from Belfast, for Deleterious, a sparkling, quirky story of a mouthy family finding their way through the deadly peril of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
  • Lili Winstanley-Channer from London, for Ladybird, Ladybird, a story set in the English Reformation. Inspired by a nursery rhyme, it explores the feelings of those who chose to die for their faith.

2017

11-15yrs

  • Winner: Leonard Belderson from Norwich wrote The City of World’s Desire, a tale of political intrigue set amongst the splendours of ancient Constantinople.
  • Runner-up: Haaris Luqman from Glasgow wrote The Very Thought of You, the story of a man’s impossible dilemma during the dark days of the Second World War in Glasgow.
  • Runner-up: Emma Strutt from Faversham in Kent, wrote The First Bullet a fascinating exploration of the private thoughts of the man who fired THAT fatal shot in 1914 at Sarajevo.

16-19 yrs

  • Winner: Miranda Barrett from Twickenham in London wrote The New Neighbours a drama describing the dilemma faced by a 1950s small-town American family when their new neighbours turn out to be Black. A tale of ordinary people at the cusp of a new world.
  • Runner-up: Maisie Beckett from Gwent wrote The Hidden Enemy exploring a hidden moment in the life of V I Lenin at the very start of the Russian Revolution
  • Runner-up: Darcie Izatt from Stenhousemuir wrote The Last Leaf the story of young post-girl tasked with delivering telegrammes at the height of World War Two.

Highly Commended:

  • Vaneeza Butt from Egham for her story, The False Prophet, about a young journalist interviewing Malcom X.
  • Krishna Gowda from Liverpool for Crossing The Line, a story about a family who found their way safely through the horrors of Partition.
  • Vhairi Jordan from Perth for The Tay Bridge Survivor, about two surprising escapes on the same day!

2016 

11-15 yrs

  • Winner: Demelza Mason  from Wisbech wrote Smuggler’s Moon, a rite -of-passage tale set amongst Lincolnshire smugglers in the 18th Century;
  • Runner-up: Sophia Bassi  from Berwick-upon-Tweed explored the life of the children of a Suffragette imprisoned for her actions.

16-19 yrs

  • Winner: Alice Sargent  from Carmarthen was inspired by her reading of the history of Welsh settlers in Patagonia in the mid-nineteenth century to write about the actions of native Patagonians on meeting the settlers.
  • Runner-up: Gregory Davidson  from Sutton wrote the story of an ordinary man of colour making his way to hear Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech and reflecting on his own life.

2015

11-15 yrs

  • Winner: Joe Bradley from Oxford based his story A Most Unusual Childhood on a trunk full of memories of a Scottish missionary to China in the 1900s.
  • Runner-up: Iseabail Duncan  from Banchory wrote her story Whales Don’t Care inspired by the history of 4 woollen hats found in the graves of Dutch whalers in Spitzbergen dating from the 17th Century, seen in the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam.

16-19 yrs

  • Winner: Rosi Byard-Jones from Reading was inspired to write In Time of Shadows by family stories of the consequences of brutal civil war in Indonesia for members of the ethnic Chinese population.
  • Runner-up: Alexander Leggatt  was inspired to write The Oak Tree about the tree under which Wilberforce did much of his thinking before the historic anti-slavery vote.

Read more about YWSP HERE.

  • Chair: The Duchess of Buccleuch
  • Director of YWSP: Alan Caig Wilson
  • Chair of the judging panel: Elizabeth Laird
  • Administrator: Lindsay Fraser
  • Publicity: Rebecca Salt, Jessica Ward
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