30th March, 2017
2016 YWSP winners announced!
Our judges are delighted to announce the four winners of the Young Walter Scott Prize 2016. You can read the winners’ stories by clicking on the links below, and all four stories are now available in a printed anthology that is free on request – please contact us using this link if you would like a copy to be sent to you.
11-15 Age Group
Winner: Demelza Mason for Smuggler’s Moon
Runner-up: Sophia Bassi for Dear Mother
16-19 Age Group
Winner: Alice Sargent for The Greatest Gift
Runner-up: Gregory Davison for Marching for the Dream
Here is more about each of the winning entries.
Demelza Mason’s story, Smuggler’s Moon, is a retelling of an 18th Century story about smugglers in Wiltshire. Confronted by soldiers, the day is saved by young Zeph whose explanation is so extraordinary that the soldiers fall for it, hook, line and sinker.
The Judges said of the story: ‘Demelza chose a less traditional setting than we might have expected for this story of a group of smugglers caught red-handed. We admired the atmosphere she created through rich imagery and authentic dialogue and dialect, and the way the narrative’s focus suddenly spotlights young Zeph, from whom the soldiers demand answers. Demelza is a most accomplished writer, and an ambitious storyteller, drawing on her clear knowledge and understanding of the period, and of the dangerous world of smuggling.’
Alice Sargent’s story, The Greatest Gift, is set in the mid-19th century in Patagonia, and explores the relationship between indigenous Native Americans, the Tehuelche, and white incomers, Welsh settlers determined to establish their own ‘little Wales beyond Wales’.
The Judges said of the story: ‘Alice’s story is an extraordinary one and her knowledge of the history and landscapes of the Patagonian area selected by the Welsh settlers as their new home provides a rich backdrop. The indigenous tribe finds life hard, but they have the skills to eke out a living. The Welsh have no local knowledge, and are therefore on the edge of starvation. The story that evolves is surprising, heartwarming and beautifully written. This kind of historical fiction adds to our understanding of an extraordinarily foolhardy attempt at colonisation.’
Sophia Bassi tells a story of a suffragette’s family in Edwardian London in Dear Mother. Cecilia writes to her mother in prison, telling her of all that is going on to further the cause.
The Judges said of the story: ‘Letters are a useful way of telling a story and Sophia has used the format to great effect. Cecilia’s mother is imprisoned, a suffragette, and while she is incarcerated Cecilia and her family continue to fight her cause. Sophia works a great deal of historical detail into Cecilia’s heartfelt letters, reminding the reader that it is individuals who make up a movement as powerful as that of the suffragettes. This counterbalance makes the tragic conclusion of the story all the more powerful.’
Gregory Davison sets his story, Marching for the Dream, in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC where Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech. The story’s narrator is in the crowd, recalling the events that have led to him being there that day.
The Judges said of the story: ‘The repeated use of Martin Luther King’s familiar call to arms, ‘I have a dream’, gives this story a robust structure. The narrator is proud to be at the famous rally, and he recognises that the world is changing, and that segregation is loosening its grip. But as he stands there, one of thousands in the crowd, he nurses a deep personal grief. Gregory writes with understanding, sensitivity and passion – a balancing act that he carries off with great skill. ‘