The Young Walter Scott Prize

YWSP 2017 – from left to right: The Duke of Buccleuch,  Darcie Izatt, Runner-up (16-19 yrs), Leonard Belderson Winner (11-15 yrs ) , Sebastian Barry (Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, 2012 & 2017)

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 has aspirations beyond being a creative writing prize. It’s founding celebrates and reflects the creative drive of the young Walter Scott, gathering inspirations from the history, lore and heritage of the Scottish Borders that would spark his mould-breaking life of writing. 

YWSP challenges young writers to investigate their history, their world and the stories of their people. It tasks them to roam, explore, research and be courageous in their fiction-writing. In their creative writing, they bring together their inspiration, literacy skills and current historical knowledge.

Given the world we live in now in which change-making moments occur live-and-direct on a daily basis, the Young Walter Scott Prize offers young writers an 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 well over 500 teenage writers from all parts of the UK. They 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. The range of entrants is beginning to reflect the rich international and inter-communal nature of life in the British Isles.

Read for yourself how our winners, runners up and commended writers have put their imaginations to the service of creating of stories based on verifiable historical facts.


11-15 yrs

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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.


11-15 yrs

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

16-19 yrs

  • 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.
  • 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.



  • 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!

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


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