Write Your Own Historical Fiction Competition 2020: *COVID-19 Updated Rules

The Historical Association Historical Fiction Prize and the Joan Blyth Memorial Prize

Published: 9th January 2020

Get your students to bring the past to life! 

Please note: the 2020 competition has now closed. You can read the winning entries here

Our historical fiction competition has gone from strength to strength and each year we are so impressed by the number and standard of entries we receive around such a wide range of historical periods and settings. You can take a look at some of our past entries here:

One of the key attributes of historical fiction is that it has a convincing setting in a past time and place. Students can set their stories in ANY* period or place in the past, so the story can fit in with and extend any historical topic you may be studying. Winning students will each receive a cash prize of £25 and an engraved Bath Aqua Blue glass paperweight. Schools will receive a year’s FREE subscription to the HA.

*While we encourage and accept stories from a wide variety of periods and settings, we recognise that some periods and topics carry sensitivities that do not lend themselves easily to fictionalised accounts.

  1. Across Years 5 and 6 there will be two prizes for the best individual story.

  2. Across Years 7, 8 and 9 there will be three prizes for the best individual story. Individual stories indicate a story written by an individual student who is part of a whole class or year group who are all writing historical stories.

  3. NEW CATEGORY: Across Years 10,11, 12 and 13 there will be three prizes for best individual story.

  4. There is also a prize for the best fictional historical character in a convincing historical setting. Three prizes will be on offer here across all year groups.

What are the judges looking for?

Stories in each category are shortlisted by panels of student readers. The shortlist is then judged by our primary and secondary expert panels. Judges are looking for:

  • Historical accuracy – even down to the choice of names characters are given and any props additional to the historical setting
  • A riveting read with a good plot!
  • A convincing story - i.e. is it plausible that these events and/or this character could have existed at the time?
  • Use of historical knowledge to feed the plot, context and character
  • Effective use of historical vocabulary and literary conventions, including where dialogue is included in the story
  • Creative and interesting perspectives of story-telling. In the past we have received an entry telling the story of a siege from the perspective of the castle!
  • We recommend a minimum story length of 400 words.

Entries must be received by Friday 26 June 2020
Regrettably we cannot accept entries that are not accompanied by a completed entry form (attached at the bottom of this page).

If you are looking for inspiration, don’t forget to take a look at some of the books listed in our Young Quills historical fiction award. You can find past entries hereYou can also view our webinar recording on historical fiction with author Tony Bradman, whose book Anglo Saxon Boy (Walker Books) won the Young Quills award in 2018 in the 'ages 7-9 years' category. 

Please note: Given the current national circumstances, we have decided to change the rules of the Write Your Own Historical Fiction competition this year. This is to allow for the current situation and the possibility that school closures may prevent normal entry cycles from taking place. In these cases, working on and entering the Write Your Own Historical Fiction competition can provide a fantastic activity for pupils to do as part of home learning. With this in mind, we have added a brand new category for students in Years 10-13. We have also extended the entry deadline to allow a little more time as schools and families get to grips with changing circumstances. All entries submitted so far will still be entered and schools who limited themselves to 3 entries according to the previous rules may invite other pupils to submit their own entries from home. Please find updated rules below.

Entry Rules: Covid-19 Updated

  1. Entries are free.
  2. Entry is open to all students in Years 5-13 in the academic year 2019/20.
  3. In the light of current circumstances, entries can either be submitted by a teacher on behalf of a school or by parents submitting on behalf of an individual child working from home. Given that individual entries are now also being accepted, there will no longer be any limit on the number of entries that can be sent in by pupils attending one particular school. 
  4. Entries may be word-processed or handwritten, but must be legible.
  5. Three copies of every individual entry submitted must be supplied if sending entries by post. For email entries, one copy is sufficient. All entries must be accompanied by the completed cover sheet (see note 7). This must be completed either by a teacher or parent/carer. If the person entering is over the age of 16, they may complete the form themselves.
  6. The story may be illustrated.
  7. We regret that we will be unable to return entries, so please make additional copies before you send.
  8. Each entry must have a completed entry form attached which can be downloaded below.
  9. Each entry must be submitted by an individual student. We regret that we cannot accept group entries. 
  10. Entries must be received by 26 June 2020 and should be sent to ‘Write Your Own Historical Story Competition', The Historical Association, 59a Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4JH or emailed to enquiries@history.org.uk. In the light of current circumstances, we would prefer entries to be emailed but we will still accept postal copies. When emailing entries, please scan or photograph your completed entry form and attach to the email alongside your entry. Please note that when emailing entries, you do not need to supply multiple copies of the same entry. 
  11. The results of the competition will be posted on the Historical Association website: www.history.org.uk 
  12. Prize winners will be notified in writing in September/October 2020 and will receive their prizes by post. If the entrant is leaving the school at the end of the academic year, please also supply a parental/carer contact so that we may get in touch about their award. Part of the award is a year’s free HA membership for the school. In the case that the entrant has left the school, the HA membership will go to the school they attended when they entered the competition and the individual prize will be forwarded to the entrant by the HA.