Literary Festival Short Story Winners

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Minehead Literary Festival Announces the Winners of the Adults’ Short Story Competition

Inevitably, this year’s Festival – like so many other events – was overtaken by the coronavirus epidemic.  Nevertheless, Tessa Hadley, one of our country’s leading writers and patron of Minehead Literary Festival, judged this year’s entries, the title for 2020 being The Secret.

Tessa said: ‘What a rich crop of stories this year! It was a delight to read them all: what variety of styles and themes and subject matter the writers came up with – and wonderfully varied ways of interpreting the title.  And it really was – I know everybody says this, but it really was – very difficult to choose a shortlist – sometimes comparing one story with another was like comparing chalk with cheese; how to weigh what’s funny and sour, for instance, against what’s mournful and sweet?’

Chosen from over 50 entries, Tessa named John Barnes as the winner for his original interpretation of ‘The Secret’, writing about a man accidentally privileged to witness a secret ceremony among the stags on Exmoor, where they gather to rub off their antlers at the end of the season.  Tessa said ‘…the whole was carried off with a sure touch, such vivid and moving description; I couldn’t shake its images from my mind…’

Coming second was The Woman and the Sea by Susan Mitchinson, about a woman who turns into a mermaid which ‘…balanced comedy with something wistful and poignant; and again, so elegantly put together, with great economy.’

Set in the future, the 3rd prize for Under The Greenwood Tree went to Malcolm Welshman whose story ‘...felt like an exciting use of the genre; an elegant and striking idea of a couple excavating an ancient library from the twenty-first century, their eyes opened to a vanished world of feeling.’

The four other shortlisted winners were Nikki Copleston, Dot Lupo, Christine Human and Janet Howard.

The winning entries will be posted on the website:

Monica Hartwell

T: 01643 703921