For #NationalWritingDay here is a mini story competition!
The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday (my father), who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Judged this year by William Fiennes, Catherine Johnson and Sarah Waters.
- The Burning Land by George Alagiah
- Madeleine by Euan Cameron
- Reparation by Gaby Koppel
- Find Me Falling by Fiona Vigo Marshall
- As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray
- The Stranger She Knew by Rosalind Stopps
Paul Torday Memorial Prize Judge Sarah Waters says: “There’s a great range of novels on this exciting shortlist: some have the pace and punch of thrillers and detective stories, others have the lyricism of poetry or the disconcerting shimmer of dream and nightmare. What they all have in common, however, is an interest in tackling some of the big issues of our time -– issues like injustice and reparation, trauma and recovery. They are powerful books by really talented authors.”
The inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize was awarded to Anne Youngson for Meet Me at the Museum in 2019. Total prize fund: £1,000.
Here are some brilliant ideas to entertain lockdown children.
Award-winning children’s author, Katherine Rundell, has edited The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children in Lockdown , which is completely free for all children and families. The extraordinary collection includes short stories, poems, essays and pictures from more than 110 children’s writers and illustrators, including Lauren Child, Anthony Horowitz, Greg James and Chris Smith, Michael Morpurgo, Liz Pichon, Axel Scheffler, Francesca Simon, Jacqueline Wilson – and Katherine herself.
I’m delighted to have contributed small essay about the beauty of hares in amongst such treasures.
The Book of Hopes aims to comfort, inspire and encourage children during lockdown through delight, new ideas, ridiculous jokes and heroic tales. There are true accounts of cats and hares and plastic-devouring caterpillars; there are doodles and flowers; revolting poems and beautiful poems; and there are stories of space travel and new shoes and dragons.
The collection is dedicated to the doctors, nurses, carers, porters, cleaners and everyone currently working in hospitals. Bloomsbury intends to publish a gift book based on the project to be published in the autumn in support of NHS Charities Together.
“A few weeks ago, I began a Hope Project; I emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work I love most. I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile. The response was magnificent, which shouldn’t have surprised me, because children’s writers and illustrators are professional hunters of hope. I hope that the imagination can be a place of shelter for children in the hard months ahead and that The Book of Hopes might be useful in that, even if only a little.”
During the schools closure, in addition to my daily storytime on weekdays (2.30pm, Instagram Live), I’m also going to be creating and sharing some creative writing resources and tips for your children learning and playing at home.
Here is the first very simple one. Enjoy!
It’s wonderful that so many of you want to continue reading my books out to your class online during the school closure. Normally this is more complicated than it sounds due to copyright issues (my publisher holds the audio book rights) but owing to the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in, Hachette Children’s Group have generously granted an open license to September 30th, and you can find the details below.
All of my titles are available as audiobooks on Audible.
And I will also be reading all of my titles out loud, daily on weekdays, at 2.30pm every day, on Instagram Live (@piers_torday), a chapter a day, beginning with The Last Wild. The chapters will be available on Instagram TV for 24 hours.
Happy Reading and Listening! #unitedinbooks
Hachette Children’s Group: Open Licences and Permissions for Online Story-Time and Classroom Read-Aloud Videos and Live Events – information
In order to encourage reading and classroom read-aloud experiences, and to support schools, bookshops and public libraries forced to close by the COVID-19 situation, Hachette Children’s Group is permitting authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians and booksellers to create and share story-time and read-aloud videos and live events on closed educational platforms or streamed temporarily on a live platform.
GUIDELINES FOR EVERYONE
Teachers, librarians, booksellers, authors and illustrators providing content for children during the period 19th March to 30th September 2020:
- Should announce the title of the book and the name of the author and/or illustrator as part of each video
- Should notify us via email (addressed to HCG.firstname.lastname@example.org) when they post or stream a story-time or read-aloud video or live event, providing the following information:
- Name and address of the library, school, or shop
- Title, author and ISBN of the book that is read
- Contact information for the individual responsible for the reading
- The educational or social media platform on which the video or live event is posted or held and a link to that video or live event
For clarity, permission is granted only for free use of the readings. If you are planning to charge for any use of these recordings, you should contact HCG.email@example.com in the first instance, seeking formal agreement, which may not be granted.
Guidelines for educational settings
- School story-time or classroom read-aloud videos in which an Hachette Children’s Group book is read aloud and the book is displayed may only be created and posted to closed educational platforms
- These storytime and classroom read-aloud videos may be hosted on the educational platform until the end of September 2020, after which they must be removed from the educational platform, unless this permission is extended by formal agreement
Guidelines for public libraries and bookshops
For authors, illustrators, booksellers and librarians who wish to provide a story-time reading or other read-aloud experience to young people who would otherwise visit the library or bookshop in person:
- Story time or read-aloud live events in which an Hachette Children’s Group book is read out loud and the book is displayed may be streamed live, in real time, on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitter, and Instagram
- These story time or read-aloud live events may not be maintained in the archive of the social media platform and appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that videos of the live events are not retained. Because these platforms automatically archive live events by default, when your event has concluded, please locate the recorded live video in your account (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and delete it.
Our guidance on the percentage of content to be recorded for hosting on open platforms, is usually to follow standard permissions practice, specifically designed to protect IP. However, we acknowledge that we are not operating in normal circumstances, so are happy to allow authors or illustrators, who wish to do so, to host recorded content of themselves reading their book/s on open platforms, until the 30th September.
If you are sharing your content with a third party platform, please do let us know so we can support this activity online and please do make a note to ensure the content is taken down by 30th September. Of course, no one knows how long the current situation is going to go on for, so it may be that we decide to extend this date and we will of course let you know.
I hope everyone is keeping safe at this challenging time for us all.
Sadly all my school and public events are either cancelled or postponed, check back for details in due course.
All my titles are available as e-books from the usual online retailers, links on my book pages.
All my titles are available as audio books from Audible, links on my book pages.
I will shortly be sharing classroom resources for all my books, from this website.
And soon, I will be doing readings of my books on Facebook and Instagram, as well as creative writing tutorials to help with the home schooling, check my social media channels for details.
When Charles Dickens published his ‘little Christmas book’ in 1843, it took just six weeks for the first adaptation to reach the stage. It played in London for more than forty nights before transferring to New York. In the year of publication alone, there were nine separate theatrical adaptations, including the first-ever musical version. Dickens himself was famous for his own public readings of the story, giving over 127 such recitals in England and America. And the process of retelling has continued for 176 years. From stage to screen, cartoon to musical, from the RSC to the Muppets, there are nearly thirty published adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and dozens more are written every Christmas. There was even a mime version by Marcel Marceau in 1973.
So why another? Well, whilst the tale has been retold for puppets and toys, and Scrooge performed by men young and old, the central role has remained resolutely masculine. What happens when we re-examine this classic fairy tale from a woman’s perspective, and reimagine the complex central character? And why?
The book is, at heart, a story about injustice. Dickens was horrified by the desperate destitution, especially in children, that he witnessed on his many legendary walks through industrial London. He initially drafted a political pamphlet in reply to an 1843 parliamentary report on working-class child poverty. But the Carol made his point more plangently.
Yet he was also no saint. It is perhaps telling that Catherine, his long-suffering wife (who was also a writer), titled her sole publication What Shall We Have for Dinner? She endured twelve pregnancies, bearing him ten children. These took their toll on her body, about which Dickens was privately offensive, and on her mind. Catherine was afflicted by what appears to have been severe post-natal depression, and Dickens responded by first taking up with a young actress, Ellen Ternan, then trying to persuade a doctor that his wife was insane, and should be put away in an asylum so he could continue his philandering unhindered.
Charles Dickens’s daughter Katey said that her father never understood women, and some of his excessively sentimentalised young female characters, like Little Nell in the Old Curiosity Shop, or the long parade of unattractive or damaged older women, such as Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, do not offer a very compelling counterargument to this analysis. But he was also a product of his age, a time of unstinting male power that frequently marginalised the voices of the poor, the indebted, the weak, the vulnerable – and women of all classes.
Christmas Carol is set in an intensely patriarchal society. The most powerful member of it, Queen Victoria, may have been a woman, but she also thought her own sex ‘poor and feeble’, and called for suffragists to be whipped. Her female subjects were expected to put ‘home and hearth’ before all else (often including any education and professional advancement). When she married, the rights of a woman were legally given to her husband. He took control of her property, earnings and money. If he wished to spend her money on his business or his debts, he did not require her consent. In exchange for this, she took his name. And until the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, divorce allowing remarriage was only possible by the passage of a private act through the Houses of Parliament.
Early nineteenth-century daughters, like the Fan Scrooge that Dickens imagines, were meant to get in line behind their brothers, like Ebenezer. In Dickens’s version, Fan dies early, leaving Ebenezer distraught.
But what if it had been the other way around? What if Fan Scrooge had tried to make her way in a man’s world of power and profit? What would have happened to Fan then?
Dickens wrote this enduring and uplifting story to try to heal the divisions of his own age. He yearned to create ‘a better common understanding among those whose interests are identical and who depend upon each other’. He wanted, in other words, to bring all people together, at a precious time of year, united in a love of the common good. And so do we. Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one.
To celebrate the forthcoming Wilton’s Music Hall production of my new play Christmas Carol – a fairy tale they are running a drawing competition for Key Stage 2 (Years 3 – 6). We would like you to draw or paint a picture of what you imagine one of the ghosts look like who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.
The winning entry will be printed on the front cover of the Christmas Carol – a fairy tale programme for the duration of the production’s run at Wilton’s, 29th November – 4th January.
The winner will also receive four tickets to see a performance of their choice of Christmas Carol – a fairy tale, subject to availability.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
- Make a picture of what you think one of the ghosts look like who visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve.
- Use any materials, techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer aided design, collage, montage) to make your piece, as long as the entry is two dimensional.
- The entry must be no bigger than A4 and should include your name.
- Entries will be judged on originality and creativity, boldness and impact. JUDGES WILL INCLUDE: me and members of
Christmas Carol – a fairy tale company.
- SUBMIT WORK TO: Christmas Carol – a fairy tale Competition, Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB using this entry form
- CLOSING DATE: Friday 15th November at 12.00 (midday). We will not be able to return submitted work.
I’m delighted to announce that the role of the first ever female Scrooge on the London stage in my forthcoming retelling of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol will be the award winning star of stage and screen, Sally Dexter.
Sally is known for her appearances in some of our most loved West End productions, including Oliver! and Billy Elliot The Musical. She won an Olivier Award for her performance in Dalliance at the National Theatre and currently plays Faith Dingle in Emmerdale.
She will be joined by Chisara Agor (The Wizard of Oz at Birmingham Rep),Joseph Hardy (The Cherry Orchard at Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Royal Exchange) and Edward Harrison (Wolf Hall, Broadway).
Completing the cast are Brendan Hooper (The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre), Ruth Ollman (Still Alice, UK tour) and Yana Penrose (How Love is Spelt at Southwark Playhouse).
The show is designed by Tom Piper and directed by Stephanie Street.
Come and join in the magic as spellbinding magic, haunting music, and petrifying puppets are brought to life on the unique stage of Wilton’s Music Hall.