The 2019 Wicked Young Writer Awards, created by the producers of the musical Wicked in partnership with the National Literacy Trust are today announcing the names of the 120 finalists in the running for the annual creative prizes.
Championed by Patron Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, the judges this year include two poets, Inua Ellams and Hussain Manawar in recognition of the huge growth in poetry buying and writing amongst young people. They are joined by the author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books Cressida Cowell, who returns as Head Judge for the fifth consecutive year, together with longstanding judges Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, Michael McCabe, Executive Producer (UK) of Wicked and Nicky Cox MBE, Editor in Chief of First News (a joint sponsor of the Award prize for the ‘FOR GOOD’ category). The Awards Ambassador is best-selling author of the Jamie Johnson football books, Dan Freedman, who has visited schools around the country to raise awareness of the WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 20 June 2019 at the Awards ceremony and celebration at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the long running hit musical Wicked. These finalists and their stories, poems and essays reveal a very high standard of creative writing amongst both the younger and older categories. Now in its ninth year, the Awards encourage young people aged 5-25 years old to use writing as a way of expressing themselves, producing unique and original pieces of prose and poetry. This year saw over 4,500 submissions with a rise in entries from individuals and primary schools in the 8-10 age category and the 11-14 age category.
Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon series and Head Judge reflects on the entries: “I love judging this competition because it is so exciting to know that you are encouraging young people to write for the joy of it. There are no rules in this competition, they can just write about whatever excites and interests them. And that’s the way to find future writers.”
Amongst this year’s finalist entries were stories, poems and non-fiction writing that showed imagination, intensity, bravery and humour often with powerful messages and an understated complexity. The older category stories showed a mature economy of language when discussing difficult subjects such as mental health issues and sexual identity, touching also on the value of unconditional friendships and the unobtainable image expected of young people on social media. The younger category stories took the judges to magical worlds with princesses, unicorns and space missions with fascinating and creative stories from time travelling with fossils, to a poignant refugee’s journey, a fable about an angry king, mythical kingdoms, a crafty sea maiden, the Muffin Man and a chilling story inspired by the Princes in the Tower.