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Novelist Judges Girls’ World Book Day Competition

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As part of World Book Day celebrations, pupils at Bolton School Girls’ Division Senior School have enjoyed a writing competition aimed at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. 

Acting Head of English Mrs Martin explained: ‘Girls had to answer the question: how can we look to literature for inspiration and comfort in times of crisis? The competition proved very popular and we received some fabulous entries from middle school, upper school and Sixth Form girls.’ 

The budding writers’ entries were co-judged by former pupil and author Kate Long, who became a household name after publishing her first book, The Bad Mother’s Handbook. She has since written another eight novels as well as short stories, blogs and non-fiction articles. 

As one of the judges, Kate commented: ‘It's such a privilege to read this work, and to think back to my own time at Bolton School and the way the teachers there encouraged my writing. I did contact two of my English teachers in 2004 when my first novel came out to say thank you for all they'd done. I was so very lucky to have met them.’ 

In the middle school category there were shortlisted entries from Sofia Macari, Connie Ambrose and Prisha Patel. Sofia produced a fantasy poem which moved Kate to tears; Connie and Prisha delivered fluent and persuasive articles charting their personal journeys through literature. The winner in this category was Caitlin Davies who espoused the many benefits of reading. Kate reflected that: ‘I have picked Caitlin as the winner because of the breadth of her arguments combined with her obvious passion for literature.’ 

The upper school and Sixth Form category saw Eve Blackmore, Aisha Yaqoob and Xena Logan all have their work shortlisted. Eve delivered a poem about the upheaval of lockdown; Aisha, who Kate predicted great things for as a writer, wrote a poem about finding solace in books; and Xena was commended for writing a “stunning and powerful” piece of prose about our thoughts as a catastrophe unfolds around us. The judge fed back that ‘the language here is pin-sharp, the phrasing of the sentences balanced, and the charged ending perfectly judged.’ 

The overall winner of this category was Ananya Ajit, who through her poem 'Grandma’s Words' deals with bereavement. Kate commented: ‘At a time when so many of us have lost loved ones, “Grandma’s Words” is a beautiful exploration of grief. The simplicity of the language belies the complex, subtle shades of emotional recovery being described. Ananya’s brilliant use of line breaks and imagery leads us through the steps of bereavement; the conclusion feels like a warm, comforting hand reaching out to clasp our own.” 

You can view a compilation of the short-listed entries here

You can find out more about Kate and how she became a writer here.

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