Chawton House Library Announces the Jane Austen Short Story Competition 2011

Take up your quill pens Austenesque writers and set your cap at the Jane Austen Short Story Award 2011 sponsored by the Chawton House Library in Alton, Hampshire.

This contest celebrates the “life and work of Jane Austen by inspiring and encouraging new writers” and follows the very successful 2009 competition in honor of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s arrival in the Hampshire village of Chawton in 1809. Twenty stories from the 2009 Award were published in Dancing with Mr. Darcy, edited by Sarah Waters, which I reviewed here last month. It was delightful!

We are looking for short stories of 2,000-2,500 words in length. This year the theme is ‘the heroes and villains in Jane Austen’s novels’. You can draw inspiration from any character or characters, male or female, whom you perceive to be heroic or villainous. Stories can have a historical or a contemporary setting – anything goes as long as it is well written and you state on the entry form how your idea originated.

The first prize winner will receive £1,000 and two runners up £200 each! Twenty stories will again be included in an anthology of winning and shortlisted stories from the competition. The deadline to submit your story is March 31st, 2011 and the complete submission rules can be found on the Chawton House Library Short Story Competition web page.

I had the august pleasure of meeting Mr. Stephen Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of the Library, and Dr. Gillian Dow, Chawton Lecturer at the JASNA conference in Portland last week. Besides having “dream jobs” at the grand country estate formerly owned by Jane Austen’s elder brother Edward Austen Knight, they are wonderful advocates of the contest and are very excited for the next book of the collection of stories that will be available in print in October 2011. I am so happy to see more Jane Austen anthologies in the queue inspiring writers and honoring our Jane.


Laurel Ann

Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 Winners Announced

Dancing with Mr Darcy: Short Stories Inspired by Jane Austen (2009)The winners of the 2009 Jane Austen Short Story Award were announced by author and Chair of Judges Sarah Waters at Chawton House Library on Saturday, July 18th during the New Directions in Austen Studies Conference. The first prize of £1000 went to Victoria Owens with her winning entry Jane Austen over the Styx. Sarah Waters described the story as an “original take on the Austen theme: a story about the author going to Hades to be judged by some of the more unpleasant characters she created in her novels. I thought this was very accomplished and stylish.”  The two runners-up were Kristy Mitchell and Elsa Solender, each receiving a £200 prize.

Seventeen additional short stories winners were also chosen; Andrea Watsmere, Clair Humphries, Elaine Grotefeld, Elizabeth Hopkinson, Esther Belamy, Felicity Cowie, Hilary Spiers, Jacqui Hazell, Kelly Brendel, Lane Ashfeldt, Mary Howell, Nancy Saunders, Penelope Randall, Rebecca Cordingly, Stephanie Shields, Stephanie Tillotson, and Suzy Hughes. All of the winners will be included in a new anthology Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen to be published by Honno and Chawton House Library this October.

The Jane Austen Short Story Award 2009 was created by Chawton House Library in conjunction with the bicentenary celebration of Jane Austen’s arrival in the village of Chawton in Hampshire, where all of her major novels were revised or written, culminating in the most productive writing years of her life.

Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen will also contain introductions by Sarah Waters and Rebecca Smith, the five-times great grand-niece of Jane Austen. You can pre-order it directly through Honno, or at The Book Depository.

Congratulations go out to all the winners. I am all anticipation in reading your stories.