A budding young writer inspired by the suffragettes’ suffering wins top prize

    Miranda Tansley from Tunbridge Wells was announced joint winner in the 8-10 category at the 2017 Wicked Young Writer Awards held last Friday [June 23] in London.
    The ten year old attended the ceremony at the Apollo Victoria Theatre with her mother, father and 11-year-old brother Ciaran.

    Her book, entitled The Suffragettes of Tunbridge Wells, was praised for being a story that ‘breathes life into a true episode from the frontline of the Suffragette movement’ by the judging panel, which included former MP and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ed Balls, ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar and acclaimed How To Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell.

    After winning her award, Miranda, who attends Holmewood House School, spoke exclusively to the Times about why she decided to write a book on this subject.

    “I enjoy history, and my dad was telling me all about the suffragettes in Tunbridge Wells, and how in 1913 they burned down the cricket pavilion because they weren’t allowed in – only to make the tea.”

    This inspired Miranda to write a story about a group of four young women – Eliza, Rose, Victoria and Miranda – and their plan to set fire to the men-only Nevill cricket ground pavilion. Although she has written ‘many stories already’, this is the first time she has entered a competition.

    It took Miranda six days to write the tale, and she hopes to do a sequel ‘to find out the consequences’ of their act. Her story will be published as part of this year’s Wicked Young Writer anthology, and included in her prize was a £50 book token, tickets to see the musical Wicked and £100 for her school to spend on books.

    With over 115 short-listed finalists, competition was certainly strong, and included other consciously crafted stories as well as poems and non-fiction pieces covering subjects as diverse as dementia, mental illness and hope in adversity.

    The Wicked Young Writer awards, which are now in their seventh year and championed by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall as patron, encourage young people aged between five and 25 years to use writing as a way of expressing themselves, producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. Over 600 primary and secondary schools and colleges entered this year’s competition from all over the UK.

    Head Judge Cressida Cowell said of the winners: “This year, my fellow judges and I read poems and stories addressing really big issues – mental illness, hope in adversity, kindness to strangers and the value of
    education.

    “There was an incredible range of styles and an array of brilliantly original voices, but they all had this in common – they made us, as judges, feel something.”

     

    WRITE ON: Miranda Tansley (left) at the awards with Iona Mandal, Gaby Roslin and Cressida Cowell (Photo Darren Bell)