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This year’s Cheshire Prize for Literature anthology launch was held at the University’s Queen’s Park Campus, to celebrate the publication of the 2018 competition’s best entries.

The selected stories, including those by the winners and runners-up, have been gathered together in Island Chain, edited by competition judge Dr William Stephenson. William is an Associate Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Programme Leader in BA Combined Honours English Literature at the University.

The stories in this exciting anthology turn ordinary houses, workplaces, cars and gardens into spaces of revelation, offering glimpses of new worlds. They transform ordinary life, making mundane details thrilling and dangerous. The two first prize winners illustrate this perfectly: in a bid to escape her drunken father, a girl launches herself off the garden swing, letting it lift her so high she turns into a bird. From his hut at the edge of a council estate, an old man watches a dog fall from a pylon on a parachute made from a bedsheet. The stories in Island Chain are all original, yet are connected by deep underlying layers of meaning and theme, like islands in an archipelago.

At the launch, each writer was presented with a copy of the anthology by the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mark Mitchell DL. The two first prize winners, who had received £1,000 each, were Sophie Claire for her short story Fallen Sparrow and Clive McWilliam for his short story Satellites. Both writers read their stories out during the event.

The Cheshire Prize for Literature is in its 15th year, having been launched in 2003 by the then High Sheriff of Cheshire, John Richards OBE, DL. It has become established as one of the North West’s leading writing competitions. Organised by the University of Chester, the competition is open to individuals who live, or have lived, study or have studied, work or have worked, in Cheshire.

For this first time, this year’s prize will be awarded for an original and previously unpublished playscript for theatre, radio or television no more than 15 minutes in length. The first stage is the submission of a one-page treatment between 500-800 words with 12 of these submissions commissioned to produce a 15 minute play script. Four entries will then be chosen to be performed and judged at a live performance on November 29, 2019 at Storyhouse. Entries for this year’s prize have closed.

Dr Stephenson said: “My congratulations to all our winners and anthology writers. Judging the competition was a fantastic and rewarding experience, and the anthology showcases the huge range of writing talent in Cheshire and beyond.”

The anthology is published by the University of Chester Press and costs £10.99. It is available to purchase from https://storefront.chester.ac.uk.

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