27 April 2021 Share
The winners of the Young Walter Scott Prize, a UK-wide historical writing prize for 11-19 year olds, were announced today. The judges have selected a total of ten young writers to honour with an award which challenges young people to write a piece of short fiction set in a time before they were born. This year saw a dramatic increase in the number of entries, following an outpouring of creativity during the lockdown period.
First prize in the 11-15 Years category was awarded to Atlas Weyland Eden (15), from Jacobstowe in Devon for We Wolves, a story set in the Ice Age written from a wolf’s perspective.
The judges said: ‘Atlas Weyland Eden's assured, poetic voice brilliantly inhabits the mind of a wolf as he hunts with his pack, then falls wounded and creeps into a circle of huntsmen around their fire, taking the first step into domestication. We Wolves is an extraordinary achievement from a talented young writer.’
Atlas explained why he was drawn to write about wolves: ‘In a way their darkness appealed to me, but real wolves have the primal darkness of nature and the beauty of a forest at night — something I felt the stories rarely did justice. I read books with wolf characters, but they ended up with human morals and human concerns. I wanted to write a story entirely from a wolf’s perspective, to depict how I imagined a wolf would see the world and to humanise them as little as possible.’
Taking top prize in the 16-19 Years category is Madeleine Friedlein (16) from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire with her story Slaying Holofernes, inspired by the National Gallery’s exhibition of work by the artist Artemisia Gentileschi.
The judges said: ‘Slaying Holofernes is a stirring and compassionate story from this young writer. Madeleine Friedlein expertly balances the external horror of Artemisia Gentileschi's torture against her inner fury and the iron will which will bring her attacker to justice. A striking and powerful story.’
Madeleine explained her inspiration and draws parallels with modern times: ‘The title is taken from my favourite work of Artemisia Gentileschi, "Judith Slaying Holofernes", completed following her rape by Agostino Tassi. The rage she felt is evident in this painting, so I wanted to capture this in my fictionalised piece on her court-case. Artemisia was not the only woman to have been abused in such a way, nor will she be the last, and recent news supports this. Her perseverance and eventual success despite torture and injustice shows a strength we can learn from.’
The two winners receive a £500 travel grant, their stories will be published in this year’s YWSP anthology and they are invited to a Borders Book Festival event in Melrose, Scotland, later in the year to be presented with their prizes.
Jamie Lunnon from Durham and Rachel McWhinnie from Newcastle were runners up in the 16-19 Years category, with Holly Thorpe from Wrexham receiving a highly commended award. Theodore Fulford from London was runner up in the 11-15 Years category with further highly commended awards going to Ide Crawford from Macclesfield (a previous YWSP winner), Ted Whittaker from Gloucester and Rayhana Bint-Mumin and Isa Kleinbergen both from London.
You can learn more about the prize here.