A history of National Short Story Week

IanKatieWriters, booksellers, librarians and writing organisations met at Charles Dickens Museum in London on Saturday 25th September 2010 to celebrate the launch of the UK’s first National Short Story Week.

Around seventy guests met to talk about plans for the week, and heard speeches by NSSW director Ian Skillicorn and patron Katie Fforde. They were also treated to a reading of Charles Dickens’s short story The Signal Man, read by actor Keith Drinkel in the drawing room of Dickens’s only surviving London home.

KeithGuests included representatives from the Booksellers’ Association, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), Exiled Writers, Granta magazine, Holland Park Press, Libraries for Londoners for Life, National Academy of Writing, National Association for Literature Development, Romantic Novelists’ Association, Salt Publishing, University of the Third Age (U3A), The Write Lines (BBC Oxford) and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

Events took place around the country for the inaugral National Short Story Week, including in libraries, universities, bookshops, cafes and bars.

The Promise cover artworkSince 2011, National Short Story Week has furthered the aim of getting younger people into writing, reading and listening to short stories, by running the highly successful National Short Story Week Young Writer competition for year 7 and 8 students. The competition was launched to school librarians at the School Library Association meeting on April 7th 2011.

In recent years, the winning stories have been published in  paperback and ebook anthologies, which have become bestsellers on Amazon, and raised thousands of pounds for Teenage Cancer Trust. Our chosen competition charity for 2017 is War Child. Previous shortlist judges are popular children’s authors Chris Priestley, Aidan Chamber, Tony Bradman, Tamsyn Murray and Joe Craig.

We receive entries from schools all around the UK, and from British schools in Europe, the USA, South America and Africa.

Over the past few years, events and projects to celebrate National Short Story Week. Here is just a very small selection:

Women Aloud:  an audio anthology of short stories written by eleven of the UK’s best loved women’s fiction writers. Stories by Trisha Ashley, Judy Astley, Elizabeth Chadwick, Rowan Coleman, Katie Fforde, Milly Johnson, Catherine King, Sophie King, Carole Matthews, Sue Moorcroft and Allie Spencer. Narrated by a host of talented actors including current cast members from The Archers and former stars of Neighbours and Doctors.

All of the proceeds from Women Aloud go to the Helena Kennedy Foundation, to support them in the great work that they do. The Foundation provides financial bursaries, mentoring and support to disadvantaged students from the further and adult education sectors, enabling them to complete their studies in higher education and move on successfully into employment. www.hkf.org.uk

The Write Lines: One of the UK’s most experienced and well known broadcasters, Sue Cook, brought her radio programme The Write Lines online for some exclusive shows to tie in with National Short Story Week 2011 and 2012. Listen to these programmes.

Stories online: The Guardian online celebrated National Short Story Week by publishing a number of short stories from our recommended reading list, during National Short Story Week.

Glasgow Women’s Library: During this event, the audience listened to people’s favourite short stories, and wrote one of their own at the fun and fear-free creative writing workshop, before submitting their stories to the “Dragon’s Pen event.” Visit the website

Overheard: an anthology of short stories to be read aloud (Salt Publishing).Independent publisher Salt published a new short story anthology to coincide with National Short Story Week. The anthology is a collection of short stories to be read out loud, with contributions from authors such as Louis De Bernières, Blake Morrison, Kate Pullinger, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Adele Parks and Hanif Kureishi.

Short Sentence: Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, in association with Bloomsbury Publishing and The Crime Writers’ Association, launched the Short Sentence crime writing competition. A new theme was set every two months and a winner was selected for each theme. Entries were collected throughout the year and the overall winner was announced during National Short Story Week. Visit the website

LFC: LFC teamed up with Walker Books to invite primary schools to take part in a short story competition with a chance to win a school visit from children’s author Vivian French.

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