This year's Connell Guides Essay Prize judge, award-winning novelist Philip Pullman, has selected the winner and two runnners-up in our nation-wide young writers' competition. Congratulations to Eleanor Winn, a sixth-form pupil at St Paul's Girls' School, who was chosen chosen for her striking appraisal of Jez Butterworth's play Jerusalem. Eleanor has won the £500 cash prize, along with a full set of Connell Guides. The first runner up is: Phoebe Gipson from Bradfield College for her essay on The Children Act by Ian McEwan. The second runner up is: Lailah-Tul-Anne Choudhry from Chelmsford County High School for Girls for her piece on Sylvia Plath’s poem Stillborn. They both receive a full set of Connell Guides. Commenting on the judging process, Philip Pullman said: "I was delighted to read such vivid and frank essays. The writers seemed to have looked with fresh eyes and open minds at a wide variety of texts, and to have responded with vigour and honesty. They all had good qualities, but what stood out for me in the work of Eleanor Winn was the kind of ease and authority that we see in the performance of a gifted singer or ball-player - a complete familiarity with the medium, a way of presenting the material that seems effortless. She’s at home with language, so that writing and thinking about story and drama comes naturally to her. When we see a gift like that, the only thing to do is enjoy it." Founder of Connell Guides, Jolyon Connell, said "We are thrilled to have Philip Pullman as our judge this year. As a former teacher himself, he was well equipped to spot young talent. We were inundated by would-be winners, I'm glad I didn't have to pick the winner myself." The competition was open to all sixth-form pupils studying English Literature. The aim of the Connell Guides Essay Prize is to encourage young people to think about and interpret literature in a way that helps to foster a life-long love of reading and writing.
Phoebe Gipson on Ian McEwan's The Children Act - Bradford College
Lailah-Tul-Anne Choudhry on Sylvia Plath’s poem Stillborn - Chelmsford County High