The University of Cambridge is partnering with BBC Radio to promote the BBC National Short Story Award, the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the BBC Student Critics’ Award in a three year collaboration starting in 2018.
These awards highlight the BBC’s commitment to the short story form and to bringing it to a wider audience. The University of Cambridge will support all three of the awards and the charity, First Story, will become a partner for the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the Student Critics’ Award. The partners replace BookTrust who have been working as a partner with the BBC since 2006.
‘The University of Cambridge has a rich heritage of investigating storytelling for eight hundred years and in that time we have produced many acclaimed creative writers including those who excel at the short story form such as A.S. Byatt, Helen Oyeyemi and Zadie Smith. The BBC shares more stories with more people than any other organisation in the world, and both organisations have an outstanding reputation for excellence and literary merit. The combined strengths of Cambridge and the BBC with First Story will make this a powerful and productive partnership.”
The new partnership heralds an expanded programme of activity around the awards. A short story symposium will be hosted by the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing at Madingley Hall, the Institute of Continuing Education’s campus. The symposium is aimed at new writers and anyone interested in short stories and creative writing and will include writing workshops and talks by established authors. Cambridge will host the 2018 prizegiving, with a special short story edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Front Row which will be broadcast live from the University Library. The Cambridge School of Arts and Humanities will also host First Story’s Young Writers’ Festival for 600 young people in 2018.
Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Radio, said:
“I’d like to warmly welcome both of our new partners as we continue to champion brilliant storytelling across the BBC, including these awards on Radio 1 and Radio 4. We are the biggest commissioner of short stories and these awards are very much part of our commitment to bring our listeners the best new writing both from established and emerging talent. We greatly appreciate the support of our new partners, and I’d also like to thank BookTrust for their work with us over the past decade.”
The BBC Young Writers’ Award and the BBC Student Critics’ Award enhance the offering for young people, with the aim of inspiring the next generation of readers and writers of short stories. Entrants to the Young Writers’ Award will have the opportunity to write their own short stories inspired by a treasure trove of literary artefacts, as the Cambridge University Library opens up its digital archives for writing prompts. Through the Student Critics’ Award selected 16–18 year olds around the UK will read, listen to, discuss and critique the five stories shortlisted for the NSSA and have their say. They will have access to discussion guides and teaching resources created with BBC Learning, and in-school events with writers, judges, First Story networks, and staff and students from the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge.
Di Speirs, Books Editor for BBC Radio said: “The launch of our new three-way partnership with the University of Cambridge and First Story is a hugely exciting moment. The BBC National Short Story Award and the BBC Young Writers’ Award have made a genuine difference to individual writers and to the literary landscape over the past twelve years. The Student Critics’ Award will foster a new generation of readers alongside our exciting plans for writers of all ages. We share with our partners a commitment to inspiring new writers and readers and to championing the very best short story writing in the UK.”
The prizes for both the BBC National Short Story Award and the BBC Young Writers’ Award remain the same. The five writers shortlisted for the BBC NSSA will all be celebrated individually on Radio 4: as in previous years, the stories will be read on Radio4 and the authors will be interviewed on Front Row, followed by a live edition of the programme where the winner is announced. For the Young Writers’ Award, the shortlist will have their stories published on the BBC Radio 1 website and the winning story will be broadcast on Radio 1. The awards will open for entry in December 2017.