Short-Story Competition 2020

We are delighted to announce the winners and share their stories!

A very big THANK YOU to all the students who took part in our 2020 short-story competition. We were very impressed by the quality of the writing and the variety of work-related topics chosen.

The short-story competition was called ‘Trading Places’ and asked entrants to put themselves into one of the many work situations that are described on this website. We had a magnificent response from students who delivered imaginative interpretations of the images, articles and stories from the digitised nineteenth-century magazines on this website.

We loved reading all the stories but drawing up the final shortlist was very difficult with such an array of excellent stories to choose from! However, we were kindly assisted in this happy task by Connie Gallagher an artist and joint curator of our 2019 Exhibition Keep the Door of My Lips, as well as the award-winning artist Emmanuelle Loiselle whose work featured at the event. The exhibition explored what ‘work’ means for us today.

All six prize-winning stories are published on this website, the links can be found below. An online awards ceremony is planned for January 2021. The winners in both age categories also received vouchers to spend: 1st Prize £100; 2nd Prize £75; 3rd Prize £50.  

Winners in the 12-15 Years Category

1st Prize

The winner of this age group is Zayd Nadeem, whose story The Cost of a Dream was inspired by the Building World magazine and follows the plight of a Bengali migrant worker in Qatar.

2nd Prize

Second prize goes to Cierran Biles with a story called First Time to Market about a boy’s first-ever journey to Smithfield’s meat market during the nineteenth century. The story was prompted by the Meat Trades’ Journal.

3rd Prize

Third prize goes to Harry Jordan. His story Away with Discontent was influenced by articles in the British Workman magazine and exposes the poor working conditions of a group of nineteenth-century Chimney Sweeps.

Winners in the 16-18 Years Category

1st Prize

The winner of this category is Molly Heron whose story The Fray closely follows the experience of a soldier during the Crimean War. Molly was inspired by a short story in the Navy and Army Illustrated magazine.

2nd Prize

Alice Mantle is awarded 2nd prize with her story Cleanliness is Next to Godliness. It was influenced by the British Workman magazine and explores a Victorian woman’s relationship with her husband and God.

3rd Prize

Third prize goes to Jennifer Bürgin whose story The Man Who Drowned and Swam Again is an account of an alcoholic father and the impact of his drinking on his family. It was inspired by the temperance messages in the British Workman.

All other entrants received a ‘certificate of achievement’ to say thank you for entering and to confirm their participation in the competition.


We are planning another short-story competition for 2021 so watch this space! Meanwhile, if you have any ideas to share with us about the themes of our next competition, or you have any questions please contact us at

Dr Andrew King, FRSA, Professor of English Literature and Literary Studies, University of Greenwich 

Dr Deborah Canavan, Research Fellow, BLT19 University of Greenwich

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