Royal High School Bath student receives unanimous vote to win writing prize

Royal High School Bath student receives unanimous vote to win writing prize

21 March 2022

Judges were unanimous in choosing Madeleine Whitmore, a Royal High School Bath student, as the winner of the David Selwyn Prize, a prestigious short story competition for schools in the Bath and Bristol area. Every year, the prize is awarded in association with the Jane Austen Society for essays related to the works of Jane Austen.

Madeleine is currently in the sixth form studying English as part of her A Levels and was appointed as the School’s inaugural student Poet Laureate for her talented writing of verse and prose. Her work that won the prize is entitled, ‘Object Permanence’.

The David Selwyn Prize is open to anyone 18 and under with entrants having to submit social satire in the form of a short story exposing social issues. David Selwyn was an internationally renowned scholar of Jane Austen having written and edited several books about her. He was also Chair of the Jane Austen Society and a teacher at Bristol Grammar School for many years.

The David Selwyn Prize is awarded every year to celebrate his contribution to the understanding of Jane Austen’s writing, highlighting that her novels are typically categorised as comedies but often include an interest in women’s rights as well as issues around class, gender, race, and social responsibility.

Madeleine Whitmore said: “I’m really thrilled to have won! The story was quite personal so I’m really glad it resonated with someone other than myself.”

A spokesperson for the judging panel said: “Madeleine’s story caught our attention for its sensitive and alert portrayal of a burgeoning relationship. Rendered in third-person narrative but interwoven fluently with free-indirect discourse, ‘Object Permanence’ gives us a heightened sense of the characters’ interiority, and makes quotidian details – a crow on a drainpipe, a spot of blood on denim –rich with intent.”

Kate Reynolds, Headteacher of The Royal High School Bath, said: “We are very proud of Madeleine for achieving first place in the David Selwyn Prize. It is wonderful to know that her talent as well as the detail and care taken was identified by the judges in their unanimous decision to give her first prize. I am also very grateful to our dedicated English department who work hard to offer students the opportunity to develop a love and flair for language.”

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