The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition is an annual writing competition for young people and runs in conjunction with the prestigious Branford Boase Award, awarded to the author and the editor of the year’s outstanding debut novel for children. The Branford Boase Award was set up in memory of award-winning children’s writer Henrietta Branford and her editor, Wendy Boase, Editorial Director of Walker Books and the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition aims to encourage writers of the future, something Henrietta Branford was always keen to do.
The competition is now in its twenty first year and this year for those taking part the circumstances have been very different to previous years. The *Reading Agency’s recent survey found that children were reading more during lockdown and it is heartening to learn that this appears to have also have been the case with writing. This year saw a record number of entries to the competition, there were twice the number of entries as in past years.
The experience of being in the midst of a pandemic provided the basis for powerful, moving and unsettling pieces of writing, many with references to the loss of life and scary comparisons to the atrocities of war.’ says judge and lecturer in literacy and children’s books, Prue Goodwin, ‘But thank goodness, a few stories were light-hearted, even about the lockdown and celebrated having more time to do the things their authors wanted to do.’
Announcing the winners of this year’s competition this morning, Muhammad Khan, winner of last year’s Branford Boase Award said: ‘I’m delighted that my story starter inspired so many excellent stories and it’s made me really happy to hear about young writers turning their hands to writing during lockdown’.
The winning stories include a school based horror adventure, an ingenious time slip tale and stories described as ‘prescient and chilling’, ‘nerve-wracking’ and ‘engrossing’. The young winners range in age from ten to sixteen years old and their winning stories have all been published on the Branford Boase Award website. A further fourteen young writers were Highly Commended.
The winners will receive signed copies of the seven books on the shortlist for the 2020 Branford Boase Award.
*A survey commissioned by The Reading Agency (conducted by Beano Brain Omnibus 2020) to mark the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 reveals that 89% of 7-11-year-olds surveyed have been reading during lockdown, with 37% of them reading more than before schools closed.