Write Your Own Historical Fiction competition 2023 – the winners

The HA's writing competition for children aged 10-19 years

Published: 20th September 2023

Write Your Own Historical Fiction Competition winners 2023

Being inspired by stories of the past to tell stories for today has kept people entertained for hundreds of years. Take a look at the shelves in any bookshop and there will be plenty of historical fiction. That is why we believe in starting them young at the HA, and part of that inspiration is our annual Write Your Own Historical Fiction Competition where young people get to write a story that has its roots in the past.

One of the key attributes of historical fiction is that it has a convincing setting in a past time and place, and pupils can set their stories in any period or place across the world in the past. We do not normally stipulate a theme for entries but given that 2023 was the year of a royal coronation, we decided to mark the occasion by asking competition entries to be linked to the theme of coronations.

We are delighted to announce that the 2023 winners are:

Winners in the school years 5-6

  • Le Petit Corporal, by Catherine Du, Harrow International School, Shenzhen – a story of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • View from the Top, by Amelia Wheeler, Stowting Hill CEP school – a story of King George VI
  • Pressure Transfer, By Emile Steimberg, Heathfield House School – a story about brothers Edward VII and George VI

Best character: Carrying Time, by Florence Knight, Tormead Prep School

Winners in the school years 7-9

  • The Coronation of Nefertiti, by Shalom Wondiam, St Joseph’s RC High School – a story of Egypt
  • Keen’s Genuine Imperial Mustard, by Olivia Bruni, British School of Milan, Sir James Henderson – a story about suffragists and the Coronation Chair and Stone of Scone
  • The Coronation which never came, by Matilda Beck, Cheam School – a story of the Princes in the Tower

Best character: Kings Don’t Cry, by Joya Walker Athanassiou, Wren Academy – a story of Edward VI
Highly Commended: Red of Revenge, by Maddy Conway, St Albans High School for Girls

Winners in the school years 10-13

  • Palaces and Prophecies, by Alice Finnie of St Albans High School for Girls – a story about Catherine De’Medici
  • The King and his Folly, by Areena Iman Binti Azam. Kolej Tuanku Jafar – a story of Piers Gaveston and King Edward II
  • The Beginning of the End, by Maya Hegarty, Dominican College – a story about Lady Jane Grey

Best character: The Lost Letters of Alexandra Feodorovna, by Eirean Hickey, Dominican College – a story set across Crimea and Russia

All entries were judged by a team of primary and secondary experts who were looking for:

  • Historical accuracy – even down to the choice of names characters are given and any props additional to the historical setting. Research is key!
  • 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 storytelling. 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 and a maximum of 3500 words.

Following the creation of a shortlist the winning stories were selected by professional author and twice winner of the Young Quills for Historical Fiction, Barbara Henderson.

Details of the competition for next year will be released in early 2024.