2008 judges

Short Story Judge: Helen Simpson

Helen SimpsonHelen Simpson was born in Bristol and grew up in London.

She read English at Oxford University, where she wrote a thesis on Restoration farce, then worked for five years as a staff writer at Vogue before becoming a freelance-writer, contributing articles to newspapers and magazines and publishing two cookery books.

Her first collection of short stories, Four Bare Legs in a Bed and Other Stories (1990), won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and a Somerset Maugham Award and she was chosen as one of Granta magazine's 20 'Best of Young British Novelists 2' in 1993. Further shot story collections include Dear George (1995); Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000), a collection of loosely linked stories about modern women and motherhood, which won the Hawthornden Prize in 2001; and Constitutional (2005). 

She also wrote the libretto for the jazz opera, Good Friday, 1663, screened on Channel 4 television, and the lyrics for Kate and Mike Westbrook's jazz suite Bar Utopia. 

Helen Simpson lives in London.  Her latest story collection is In-Flight Entertainment (2010).


Poetry Judge: David Harsent

David HarsentDavid Harsent has published ten collections of poetry. The most recent, Night — published in January 2011 — was Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2011, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Collection), the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Prize, and is currently shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize.

His work in music theatre has involved collaborations with a number of composers, but most often with Harrison Birtwistle, and has been performed at the Royal Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Proms and on Channel 4 TV.

"Writing is a solitary business, and winning a prize for a story breaks into that. It means I've connected. Instantly I want to connect again. And I want to do better than I've done.

"A story prize is an invitation to keep writing, and to join storytellers everywhere. What a crowd! So I'm back to reading a lot more, trying to learn from others, see what they've done, dumbstruck sometimes at the nearly miraculous attention, tenderness, understanding and mettle. I aspire!"


Kathleen Donkin (USA) 2nd prize, Short Story competition 2016

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