Schools Writing Competition 2018



The Society holds a Schools Writing Competition every two years. The theme for the 2018 competition was 'Winter of the World'.


We are delighted to publish the winning entries below. It is regretted that the Society is unable to give the actual names of the winners for privacy reasons. In addition to the winner's prize, the school to which they belong is also awarded £500.



2018 Competition Results


Winner, £100

James Allen's Girls' School, London

Runner-up, £50

James Allen's Girls' School, London

Runner-up, £50

City of London School for Girls



2018 Winning Essay



James Allen's Girls' School


Winter of the World


Christened by dawn’s first rays of sunlight, a veil of mist dissolved with a gust of wind. Off the hunched shoulders of craggy mountain it drifted. The hostile peaks jumped out of the fog and pierced the sky. There was no horizon to the white world. It was a billowy white ocean, blending into the sky. Ice-white dust filled the cracks in the rock, split and carved by the magic of nature. Framed by mountain’s majestic peaks, the ruined ghost village nestled at the foot of the mountains.


Empty, gaping window frames flapped in the wind. Wood, sprayed with graffiti, boarded up the rest of the windows. The rest of the village was no more than a pile of stones and shattered walls, dusted with delicate icing sugar like tiny pieces of lace. The frost glittered like a diamond necklace on the spider’s web. Cold sunk its teeth into the bones of the village. Then, a brooding mist crept low along the ground, prowling around it, slithering across its feet.


A huge, derelict factory stood lifeless in the centre of town. Its crumbling chimneys and hanging gutters were clogged with leaves. As if the factory had been gnawed at by hundreds of starving rats, the paint peeled and the sills rotted. It was a huge, dirty, ramshackle place, with broken windows and a roof that leaked like a colander. A bitter whirl of icy crystals swept through with a harsh, gritty gust of wind. It blundered around the factory and lashed against the windows, hammering the glass. At that point, the fog crept on the house like a guilty serpent, slid along the windows, flicked its tongue into the corners of the building, waited a moment and then slipped back along the path.


Progressively, the first drops of rain had started to fall. Before long, the rain was relentless. Raindrops exploded like spots of ink on the windowsill. Layers of pregnant clouds clung to the mountains and blanketed the village. Puddles jumped to life as pellets of water drummed the surface. Melting chips of ice hammered the buildings streaming down alleyways. The downpour had flooded the gutters. Even after the rain had stopped, water dripped like the tick of a very slow clock. The rain left the smell of decaying flesh. Then, silence. Nothing stirred. It was as if the world was holding its breath.






2018 Runner-up



James Allen's Girls' School


The Winter of the World


In wasted woods where dwell the darting deer,

Gaunt boughs claw at the choked morning,

And stoop their hulking frames; mourning

Forgotten golden days they’d held so dear.

Watery rays, outstretched, embracing

Those skeletal crones bent in laboured stance.

They want the daffodils once more to dance

Under a sultry sun the moon is chasing.

Hollowed deer at the stifled stream peek;

Sun-starved and shrinking they tread the ice,

Wary of the frozen, mercurial vice;

Mottled, marred, where once their hides were sleek.

And downstream in secluded clearings grow,

Beneath the clustering, obstinate pines,

The sun’s glare on slender stems shines-

Earth’s upturned icicles dusted with snow.

Shadowed by pines’ needle-woven veil,

Two amber eyes like boathouse lights

Glint in knowing watch of the rimy sights.

Twigs snap – flap! The owl glides in airborne sail.

Mountains grip the sky, cloaked in velvet haze -

Misty outlines cut horizons jagged.

The clouds are pale, stale, their breathing ragged,

Above the windswept glacial maze.

Whorls of white bluster on tendrils of wind

And rustle the limbs of jaded trees,

Drops of moon blood that in air freeze

And frore arrows that pierce the owlet’s wing.

Day wanes and drags forth the wearying night,

Until purple evening descends upon

The muted opalescent landscape on

Which dark has seized and flecked with starlight.






2018 Runner-up



City of London School for Girls


Winter of the World


Stroking my hands across the ice-white, rough, wood-chip wallpaper, I stop, just half way down the hallway of the hospice. There is a winter atmosphere about. My body is shivering from a sharp, chilly draught. Peering into a small room, I see my mother sitting upright with a sprightly character. She rocks herself forwards and backwards on the armchair. A streak of paint licks her face. My mother is an artist and she is painting a lively, light landscape. Her brown, long hair is neatly clipped in a bun at the back of her head. She always wears her hair like this when painting. Looking no different to her normal self, she smiles at me cheerily. “Could you hold my palette for me, monkey?” she asks placidly. I hold the palette in my hand and peacefully make my way towards my mother. She is using bright paints which are vibrantly dancing across her canvas. Her ability to paint is mesmerising.


I remember when I was four and my mother first taught me to paint. I ended up spilling splashes and splotches of the rainbow onto the floor. I could never paint as well as her. When I was nine I had to do a school project on the solar system. We worked on it together and created a masterpiece of space. My mother painted and decorated all the planets and I wrote down all of the facts. She made every piece of work incredible fun and perfect.


Now, she has wispy patches of hair; her voice is the whistling wind but her body looks weaker. Visiting my mother again is difficult. It’s heart breaking to watch her in pain. Again she is painting in her armchair but instead with more muted and basic tones. The citrusy scent of disinfectant lingers through the musty, dusty air. She has suddenly become very tired so I have to dress her into her nightclothes and prepare for bed.


I remember every night she tucked me into the crisp clean sheets and told me a story, many stories about me or her when we were younger. Not a night passed when she didn’t kiss me upon my forehead and say good night. Every morning she changed my clothes and prepared me for school. Now it was my turn to do the same for her.


Now the sounds of crying loved ones, croaky coughing and others in pain ring in my ears as they echo throughout the hospice. As I visit my mother she isn’t sitting in her armchair anymore but lying in bed restlessly. She is a bare tree in the bleak winter, all her leaves shed and skinny skeleton remaining. Spotting the painting she has recently done, a tear cascades down the side of my sinking cheek. Jet, coal black floods the painting. It is the only colour in sight. “Finish the painting for me monkey, it’s called The Winter of the World,” she murmurs. I delicately brush blossom pink and leafy green onto the artwork.  “Yes of course, but after the winter comes spring.”