Ide Crawford and Charlotte Lee have triumphed to win the Young Walter Scott Prize (YWSP), a UK-wide historical writing prize for 11-19 year olds.
The prize, now in its fifth year, challenges young people to write a piece of short fiction set in a time before they were born.
First prize in the 11-15 years old category has been awarded Crawford, 14, from Macclesfield (pictured). Lee, 19, from Crew has taken first prize among the 16-19 year olds.
On hearing the news of winning the prize, Lee said: “The first emotion that I felt can be best described as disbelief. That then transformed in a matter of seconds, as the reality of the information struck me, into true joy, elation, and excitement!”
Lee’s winning entry The Best Thing is about two bakers in Missouri unveiling a bread slicing machine and wondering if they will go down in history alongside famous inventors like Edison.
Lee said she found inspiration for her story browsing through a book of inventions and described Otto Rohwedder’s invention of sliced bread as humble and impactful, adding the message of the story is no dream is too big or small.
The judges said: “We liked the breezy style and the neatly placed early 20th Century USA historical detail in this refreshingly original story about the invention of a machine for slicing bread.”
Written in North Yorkshire dialect, set in late 18th Century Whitby and inspired by folk-songs about North-East England, Crawford’s story The Whale’s Way is about a young wife waiting with her baby for her whaler husband to return and the family’s reunion being ruined by the arrival of a press gang.
Judging panel chair Elizabeth Laird said: “Watch out, adult historical novelists! A new generation of brilliant young authors is coming up fast, and our YWS prize winners are hot on your heels!”On winning the prize, Crawford said: “I’m so honoured. YWSP embodies all my favourite things; if I could have designed a writing prize it would be just like this in every detail.”
Former Scotsman literary editor David Robinson joined the judging panel this year alongside award-winning author travel and children’s author Laird (Red Sky in the Morning, Jake's Tower), YWSP director Alan Caig Wilson and literary agent Kathryn Ross.
The winners receive a £500 travel grant, a published book of their work and a two day trip to the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland where they are presented with their prizes.
YWSP said it saw a dramatic increase in the number of entries this year, reinforcing the founders’ belief in young people’s interest in history and the entries represent a remarkable geographical and historical span.
Calypso Lewis from North London was runner-up in the 11-15 category with Ella Cox from Halstead, Ranuli Jayawardhana from Sunbury-on-Thames and Daisy Stewart Henderson from Glasgow received highly commended awards. Ellana Cowan, Turner Ruggi and Lucy Thynne from London were runners up in the 16-19 years category.
YWSP is associated with the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, honoring a published book every year at the Borders Book Festival in June. Both prizes are sponsored by founders, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.