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Winners announced in Derbyshire libraries writing competition

Published: 20 May 2021

Winners of a Derbyshire writing competition with the theme of 'isolation' have been announced with the entries to be featured in an ebook.


Our libraries ran the competition earlier this year after receiving funding from Arts Council England to take part in BBC Novels That Shaped Our World – a programme celebrating the novel and reading.

The funding was used to produce a series of library activities and events including two free online writing workshops with celebrated local authors Anna Stuart and Emma Pass.

Anna presented a 'getting started guide to the nuts and bolts of writing for adults', and Emma gave a writing workshop for young adults.

The programme also included a free online event in partnership with Libraries Connected, which saw acclaimed author Maggie O’Farrell in conversation about her latest Women’s Prize winning novel Hamnet.

The writing competition, launched in February, was open to all Derbyshire residents aged 16 and over, who were invited to submit pieces of up to 500 words, either fiction, memoir or poetry, with the theme of isolation.

Judged by Anna Stuart and Emma Pass, there were more than 130 entries, and the winners have now been announced as:

  • first prize (winning £250 in book tokens) – Catherine Burke of Grindleford, with 'A New Normal'
  • second Prize (winning £150 in book tokens) Helen Larder of Glossop, with  'How to Make Friends'
  • third Prize (winning £100 in book tokens) – Barbara Crossley of Tideswell, with 'Isolation Is…'

Council Leader and Designate Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change Councillor Barry Lewis said:

“This competition truly captured the interest and imagination of the local talent that exists in Derbyshire, and the book is an accolade of their achievements and a poignant reflection of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are passionate about our library service, and activities and programmes like this really encourage people to find out more about what’s on offer across the county.”

Read the winning entries of the BBC 'Novels That Shaped Our World' competition along with a number of highly commended entries.

All eligible entries will be published in a compendium ebook on Derbyshire Libraries' BorrowBox platform available by the end of May.

Anna Stuart said:

“It’s been my absolute pleasure to help judge this wonderful competition. It seems that Derbyshire has some excellent writers and this theme, with its deep resonances in what has been such a hard year, really brought out the best in them.”

Emma Pass said: 

“I was incredibly impressed at the standard of all these entries. Although they shared a common theme of "Isolation", each had a unique take, and choosing these pieces was no easy task. This has been an important project at an incredibly difficult time, and it's been a pleasure to be involved.”

For more information about the programme visit Libraries Connected.