The WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created by the producers of the musical WICKED in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, is pleased to announce that entries are now open for the celebratory 10th anniversary year of “the prestigious awards” (The Times). Full details can be found at www.WickedYoungWriterAwards.com.
The 2020 Awards mark the 10th anniversary of the national writing competition for 5 to 25-year olds, which were established in 2010 to reward excellence in creative writing and encourage young people to find their own voice.
Michael Morpurgo (War Horse, Private Peaceful) was instrumental in setting up the awards 10 years ago and one of the first judges. He commented: “Happy birthday Wicked Young Writer Awards! I was delighted to get involved all those years ago because I felt there was a great need for a writing award for all ages. One that wasn’t prescriptive but would allow young people to write about what they felt, to find their voice with the encouragement of their parents and teachers.”
Since the Wicked Young Writer Awards were set up, in support of the National Literacy Trust, they have attracted entries from over 50,000 children and young people across the UK. Every year the Awards ceremony, to which all the 120 finalists and their families and teachers are invited, takes place at the stunning Art Deco home of the musical WICKED, London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. The ceremony features live performances and readings of the winning entries from the WICKED cast.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of the Wicked Young Writer Awards since they were founded. The Duchess is a passionate promoter of Literacy in the UK and internationally, with particular focus on encouraging a love of reading and writing from an early age. The Duchess is also Patron of several organisations which promote and support literacy, including the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, First Story and Beanstalk.
The judges for the 2020 Awards will be:
Cressida Cowell (How To Train Your Dragon, The Wizards of Once), the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019-2021, who returns as Head Judge for a fifth consecutive year. Cressida will be joined again by long-standing judges Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust; Nicky Cox MBE, Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning children’s newspaper First News; Michael McCabe, Executive Producer (UK) of WICKED and the internationally renowned poet and mental health ambassador Hussain Manawer, who returns for a second year. Joining them for the 10th anniversary year will be the BAFTA award-winning writer, comedian and actor Charlie Higson (Young Bond and The Enemy book series, The Fast Show) and author, illustrator and performance poet Laura Dockrill (Darcy Burdock book series). Our Ambassador for a second year is best-selling author Dan Freedman (Jamie Johnson football book series) who has visited schools across the country to raise awareness of the Awards.
Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive of National Literacy Trust said:
“Over the past 10 years, young writers from across the UK have been capturing our imaginations, moving us to tears and making us laugh out loud through the Wicked Young Writer Awards. Writing can inspire children and young people’s creativity and give them the freedom to explore their thoughts and feelings. Not only that, but children and young people who enjoy writing tend to go on to do better at school and lead happier lives. I can’t wait to read the entries from this year’s young writers as we celebrate 10 years of this incredible award.”
Michael McCabe, Executive Producer (UK) of WICKED said:
“Since launching in 2010, with the generous support of Michael Morpurgo and Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Wicked Young Writer Awards has received over 50,000 extraordinary stories and poems from young writers. We are exceptionally proud to continue championing literacy and creative writing in young people and to promote the inspiring and important work of the National Literacy Trust. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the judges who have given so generously of their time in a shared passion to encourage young people to write and to improve literacy standards across the UK.”
As in previous years, entrants can enter one of five different age categories; 5-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17, 18-25. In addition, the 2020 Awards see the fifth year of the FOR GOOD Award for Non-Fiction, encouraging 11-25-year olds to write essays or articles that recognise the positive impact that people can have on each other, their communities and the world we live in.
Pieces of original writing can be submitted, either individually or as part of a school group, until 2 March 2020. The overall winners from each category will win a VIP family experience to the West End production of WICKED, including an exclusive backstage tour and cast meet-and-greet, £50 book/eBook tokens, plus £100 worth of books for the 5-14-year old winner’s school library donated by Hachette Children’s Books.
There will also be prizes for the school and teacher who submit the most entries. Details of other prizes in each age category are highlighted in notes for editors.
Stories, poems and non-fiction pieces from 120 finalists from across the UK will be published in the annual Wicked Young Writer Awards Anthology. The finalists are also invited to an exclusive ceremony at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home to the award-winning musical since 2006, where judges and members of the WICKED cast will read the winning stories and poems and announce who has won in each category.
Previous winners comment on the awards:
Iona Mandal (Winner, 8-10 years category 2017) said: “It was definitely one of the most humbling, yet glamorous experiences for me as a budding writer. It made me realise that writing and literature can open so many vistas to delve into and explore, especially as a young person in this day and age. Winning the Wicked Award has definitely made me more confident to make a gradual entry into prose, by stepping out of my comfort zone and first love – poetry. Since winning I have been shortlisted for Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2018 and this year I have read my work in the Wolverhampton Literature Festival and my poems in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.”
Freya Hannan-Mills (Winner,11-14 years category, 2018) who said: “Since winning the award in 2018 I was commissioned to write a full length play for the John Thaw Season at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London and the Olivier Award winner Denise Gough performed an extract from this work (Swallow) at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. Having Denise perform your work is amazing and reminded me of the beautiful performance that Alice Fearn also gave at the Wicked Young Writer Awards ceremony.
Kristen Hawke (Winner, 18-25 years category 2019) said of the awards: “I think the award is amazing in that it spans such a huge age group, it gives you the chance to submit essays if that’s your passion, and it’s free! It means whoever you are, whatever you write, and whichever stage you’re at as a writer, you have a chance to let your creativity loose and really come alive through your writing. The best thing about winning the award is that it gave me confidence in myself and courage to keep writing. The entries are judged by actual writers and to know that real, professional authors think my work is good is just so inspiring. I look forward to next September when I’ll be starting an MA in writing for children and young adults and can spend a year surrounded by words.”
The Awards are pleased to announce as returning media partner for 2020, First News. First News will also sponsor the Award prize for the FOR GOOD category which is judged by the by Editor-in-Chief Nicky Cox MBE.
Deadline for entries is 2 March 2020.
Entrants can submit their writing by visiting www.WickedYoungWriterAwards.com where they will also find writing tips and resources from the Award judges.