The winners of a county-wide creative writing competition for young Hampshire writers have been announced.
The competition, which was organised by Hampshire Cultural Trust and Jane Austen’s House Museum, invited entrants to pen a short story of no more than 500 words using the title Persuasion. Persuasion was Austen’s last complete novel and was published five months after her death on 18 July 1817. The bicentenary of her death was commemorated in 2017 by Jane Austen 200, a year-long programme of county-wide events.
The competition was open to young people who live or study in Hampshire in two age categories, 7 to 11 years and 12 to 16 years. Entries were received from individuals and schools across the county. On Saturday 9 June, shortlisted writers from the two categories were invited with their families to an awards ceremony and afternoon tea at Jane Austen’s House Museum to celebrate their achievements.
The winning story in the 7-11 category was written by Zaki Rynne from Fleet and the runner-up was Emily Downs from Fareham. The winner of the 12 – 16 category was Najibah Chowdury from Winchester and Phoebe Shea from Andover was the runner-up. The winner and runner-up in each category received national book tokens as their prize. Nine young writers were highly commended for their excellent stories: from the 7-11 category Lexi Field from Winslade, Anisa Rynne from Fleet, Ewan Scott from Basingstoke, Molly Winfield-Holmes from Southampton and Hannah Boyle, Faith Tompkins and Daisy Wheller, all from North Waltham. In the 12-16 age group, the entries written by Kate Bestwick from Winchester and Isabelle Cole from Andover were also both highly commended.
Hampshire-based writers Rebecca Smith and Neal Layton were the judges. Rebecca commented: ‘It was such a joy meeting all the young writers at the ceremony. During our judging, we were looking for imagination, fun characters, maybe humour or adventure, whatever the word Persuasion inspired entrants to write. What a fantastic spread of stories we had!’
Neal Layton added: ‘We spent a brilliant day judging the stories and were quite exhausted by the end of it. Our only problem was that there were too many really fantastic stories. I’m pretty sure we have spotted some Hampshire authors of the future.’
The winning stories can be enjoyed at the links below:
7 - 11 years
Winner: Zaki Rynne
Runner Up: Emily Downs
Highly commended: Lexi Field, Anisa Rynne, Ewan Scott, Molly Winfield-Holmes, Hannah Boyle, Faith Tompkins and Daisy Wheller
12 - 16 years
Winner: Najibah Chowdury
Runner Up: Phoebe Shea
Highly commended: Kate Bestwick and Isabelle Cole