BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist announced

BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist announced

Stories about the impact of confinement on mental health, the seductive power of everyday intimacies and a quest for a bigger life dominate an "ambitious, authentic and unique" shortlist for the 2021 BBC Young Writers’ Award.

Now in its seventh year and run with Cambridge University, the award is open to all writers aged 14 to 18. This year's shortlist includes "Fatigued" by Luca Anderson-Muller, 18, from Belfast, which explores isolation, confinement, human greed and social justice via the fate of two goldfish in a bowl. "Another Boring Night" by Isabella Yeo Frank, 18, from London, tells the story of three teenage girls on the cusp of adulthood as they spend a night in a suburban garden drinking and talking about the future.

Tabitha Rubens, now 19, also from London, is shortlisted again this year for "Super-Powder" which follows a young woman as she markets a snake-oil wonder formula to an unwitting public. "Blood and Water" by Eleanor Ware, 17, from Bedfordshire, was written after Ware's grandmother mentioned that they were descended from the Huguenots (French Protestants persecuted in France in the 17th century) and examines the humanity in the immigrant experience as a family attempt to escape their persecutors by boat. Madeleine Whitmore, 16, from Bath completes the list with "Pomodoro (and Nasturtium Seeds)", which examines the "tiny intimacies" of everyday lives and the beginnings of romance during the simple act of sharing a home-cooked pasta dish.

The five shortlisted stories, each under 1,000 words, will be read by actors Abbie Andrews, Grace Cooper-Milton, Michael Shea, Rebekah Murrell and Katherine Press. They will also be available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website

Katie Thistleton, chair of the judging panel, said: “What an incredible judging panel we had this year and an amazing diverse list full of exceptional entries. After 18 months like no other, it’s been fascinating to get inside the minds of young people and read about the issues that matter to them. I’m so impressed by the quality of the writing and can’t wait to meet the writers behind the words."

The panel includes Mercury Prize-winning singer-songwriter Arlo Parks, the highly acclaimed Irish YA author Louise O’Neill, bestselling author and actor Robert Webb, and Guardian Children’s Fiction Award winner Alex Wheatle. O’Neill said: “It has been an honour to be involved with the BBC Young Writers' Award. I was blown away by the shortlisted stories, which take us from a dark night in 17th-century France, to the cosy intimacy of a modern-day kitchen. The talent, artistry and originality displayed by these young writers is incredibly exciting and I envision great things for their future. I cannot wait to see what they do next.” 

The winners of the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the 16th BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on 19th October.