DHSA Short Story Competition 2017

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford proved a rich source of imagination for our young writers.

Every year the Downe House Seniors’ Association runs a short story competition and the winners enjoy a bespoke literary event. Started in 2015, the competition is open to all pupils and divided into three sections, Junior, Middle and Senior, organised by Mrs Jessica Boswell, a member of the English staff, and judged by a panel of DHSA members with interests and expertise in publishing. In addition, the best entry is awarded the Clare Balding Prize for excellent writing.

To date, winners have attended events at the British Library and the Ashmoleam Museum. This year the winners and runners-up headed to the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Poppy Scales reports:

On 14 March the winners of the annual DHSA short story competition went on a trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. When we arrived at the museum, we were greeted by our instructor for the characterisation workshop we would be taking part in. For our first exercise, we were presented with some masks, and were told to create a 30 second introduction for them as if they were at a party, which we would then present to the rest of the group. It was hilarious listening to everyone’s interpretations!

For our next activity, we were presented with several different objects and wrote a paragraph as though we were the object persuading the curator of a museum to put us in a central exhibition. (I had a shy, rather awkward camel intestine jug, called Gerard.) It was very entertaining seeing the different personalities everyone else had created!

We were put in pairs for our final activity, in which we had to find two objects in the museum, give them characters, and write a dialogue about them overseeing something in the museum. Everyone had a different object and story, which made it all the more interesting and fun to listen to.

After our workshop, we spent some time looking around the fascinating museum. We then made our way to the large Waterstones in the centre of Oxford where we had an hour to browse the bookshelves; it was lovely until I had to make the agonising internal struggle of choosing which books to buy, having realised the numerous volumes piled up in my arms would be far too expensive. We then sat down in the Waterstones café for a while, reading each other’s stories before proceeding to Bella Italia for dinner. We were joined by Katherina, Downe House alumna and one of the DHSA judges who is reading English at Oxford University. It was very interesting talking to her, and she was very eager to find out how Downe had changed since she left, and was keen to impart some pearls of wisdom and knowledge regarding life, school, and writing. Our evening was the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day, and we all enjoyed every minute!

The winners of the 2017 Short Story Competition were:
Clare Balding Prize for Excellent Writing – Maddison James
Junior category winner – Mary Hazlitt
Middle category winner – Maddison James
Senior category winner – Izzy Fincham

Posted: 5th Apr 2017

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