Princesses, dragons and dinosaurs all featured in the imaginative tales entered by young Oxfordshire writers for a new prize organised by university students.
Oxford Writers’ House, a new writing hub for the universities and city of Oxford, has just announced the winners of its first-ever children’s writing competition.
The Peregrine Prize for young writers drew 150 entries from across the county, with the winners announced at a special reception at Rhodes House at the weekend. Overall winner was 16-year-old Mukahang Limbu from Rose Hill for his lyrical story Ghazal, To See.
Oxford Writers’ House is run by student volunteers and was founded last year by Dr April Pierce. Completing her D.Phil in English Literature at the time, she wanted to create a hub supporting creative writers spanning the city and its universities. Since then, the group has organised 25 writing workshops and other events, and won the support of the City Council for writing competition.
The Prize was judged by the writer, critic and Man Booker judge Jon Day who said he had greatly enjoyed reading all the entries. He commented: “I was intrigued, fascinated, frightened, moved and inspired by their stories. It was a great honour to judge the inaugural Peregrine Prizes.”
Mukahang, who attends Oxford Spires Academy, was the winner in the 15 to 18-year-old category. He also won the title of Oxford City Young Writer 2017-18, which was presented by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Christine Simm. Over the next year he will act as an ambassador, inspiring other young writers at events around the county.
Mukahang, who is now working on writing plays, hopes to be a professional writer. His prize-winning entry is a ghazal, an ancient poetic form from Arabia. He said of the award: “I didn’t expect it at all. The next year will be a great learning experience and inspire me in my writing career.”
The winner in the 8-11 category was Josias Saviola Santoso, who read out his short story Railway Life, the tale of children who save the Darjeeling Hill Railway. Winner in the 12-15 category was Lily Skinner, with Road to Nowhere, a powerful short story about a man diagnosed with cancer.
Dr Pierce said she was delighted with the group’s successful first year and the enthusiastic response to the writing completion. She said: “I was really thrilled by the outcome. I particularly enjoyed reading all the entries and the fresh perspective young people bring to their writing.”