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.

This question for the founders of YWSP, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, was this: Taking the inspiration of both Sir Walter Scott , and the Prize named for him would it be possible to create a young writers’ prize that might energise them to explore their historical world?

YWSP challenges young writers, as Walter Scott as a young man 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.

The world we live in now is changing live-and-direct on a daily basis. 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. Read for yourself the corners of history that they have reached into to find inspiration for their stories.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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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