Launch of Chalke Valley History Prize for Young Writers

Are you a budding young historical novelist between the ages of 11 and 18 or do you know someone who is? Then this competition is for you!

Yesterday saw the launch of the Chalke Valley History Prize 2012, a historical fiction prize for young writers, at the Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, London. Present at the launch were The Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, bestselling author and historian Antony Beevor, Managing Director of Waterstones James Daunt, Viscountess Rothermere, and co-chairs of the Chalke Valley History Festival – historian James Holland and founder of the Ottakar’s bookshop chain James Heneage.

This competition aims to encourage aspiring young writers to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard!) and write the opening chapter of an historical novel. Here are the rules/guidelines:-

  • Each entry must be over 1,000 words and less than 1,500 words
  • The entry needs to include a brief synopsis of no more than 500 words outlining the rest of the book.
  • It must include one real historical character and needs to be set in one of the following periods: The Classical World, England from the Conquest to the Magna Carta, Tudor England, Georgian Britain, Victorian Britain or Britain in the Two World Wars.
  • The writer must be between the ages of 11 and 18
  • All entries should be sent by email to and the closing date is Tuesday 1st May 2012. For further details of how to enter and for full terms and conditions, please visit

The prize will be divided into two age groups. The first is for budding young novelists aged between 11-14 years old and the older section will be for those aged between 15-18, with the entries judged on both writing skill and historical accuracy.

The judges for the Chalke Valley History Prize are as follows: former Children’s Laureate and bestselling author of War Horse Michael Morpurgo, Secretary of State The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Editorial Director for Puffin Books Shannon Park, Head of English at the Hereford Cathedral School James Petrie, and broadcaster and historian James Holland. A shortlist of six entries will be put to the panel of judges, with the winners being announced at an event at the Chalke Valley History Festival on Sunday 1st July.

James Heneage said: “The Chalke Valley History Festival is determined to enthuse people of all ages with the adventure of history. This competition will not only do that for teenagers but may even find the next generation of best-selling historical writers.”

Two winners will be picked (one from each age group) and each will receive:-

  • A Kindle
  • £100 worth of Penguin (including Puffin) books of the winner’s choice
  • A signed book by Michael Morpurgo
  • An hour’s consultation with the Conville & Walsh Ltd Literary Agency
  • Plus, the school of the winner will receive a visit by Pike & Shot Historical Events

Four runners up will receive a signed book by Michael Morpurgo and all six shortlisted candidates will be invited on a special guided tour of The Tower of London, with a private view of the Crown Jewels.

The Chalke Valley History Festival

The Chalke Valley History Festival takes place from 26th June to 1st July 2012 in south-west Wiltshire, just outside Ebbesbourne Wake, near Salisbury. The brand-new twenty-two acre site will play host to over 50 events being held in two tents, across four evenings and an entire weekend.

The 2012 list of speakers includes a stellar line-up of household names, including: Sir Max Hastings, Antony Beevor, Ian Kershaw, Amanda Vickery, Jeremy Paxman, Michael Morpurgo, Ian and Victoria Hislop, Tom Holland, Dan Snow, Simon Jenkins, Alison Weir, and Michael Wood, and many, many more. The new programme of events, for both adults and children and which you can now find at, will have something for everyone.

One of the aims of the Festival is to put ‘history’ back on the map – to place it at the centre of British culture, to raise its profile in schools, and to make the new, younger generation of students coming through the educational system aware of its importance. With this in mind, the proceeds of this year’s Festival will go the newly-formed Chalke Valley History Trust, set up to promote history and our understanding of the past. The Festival also has the backing of the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, who says: “The adventure that is history should be part of every child’s education and that is why this History Festival is such a great idea.”

Apart from literary talks, covering both fact and fiction, there will be plenty of other things for visitors to do at the Chalke Valley History Festival this year. At the weekend there will be a chance for adults and children to interact with ‘living history’ displays and interpretations, and to attend a ‘History Catwalk’ where local talent will tell the story of fashion. Plus, there will be the finals of ‘The Greatest Briton’ competition – when the British public will be asked to vote for their all-time favourite British person from history. And on the Sunday, the Festival will stage an Intelligence Squared Debate when the topic ‘Has Religion Been a Force for Good in History?’ will be hotly discussed.

Co-Chair James Holland said: “I’m excited about the way we will be working with the very best living history groups around. To see Juliet Barker talk about Agincourt, for example, and then afterwards to watch a longbow demonstration is a combination no-one else has thought of doing.”

The Chalke Valley History Festival takes place from 26th June to 1st July 2012. For further information, please contact Alex Hippisley-Cox on 020 8488 3764/mobile 07921 127077 or email her at

You can see a full programme of events for the festival at

Tickets will go on sale at the end of March. You can follow all the news on Twitter at @CVHISTORYFEST

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2 thoughts on “Launch of Chalke Valley History Prize for Young Writers”
    1. I’ve just checked the website and under terms it says “Entrants must be either 11-14 or 15-18 on 1st May 2012, and a permanent resident in the United Kingdom” so you don’t have to be British but you do have to reside in the UK.

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