Swansea University’s Cultural Institute is relaunching the distinguished national Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for writers from, or living in, Wales.

Born in Blaenclydach in the Rhondda in 1901, Rhys Davies was among the most dedicated, prolific, and accomplished of Welsh prose-writers in English. He wrote, in all, more than 100 stories, 20 novels, three novellas, two topographical books about Wales, two plays, and an autobiography. 

Originally established in 1991, there have been eight Rhys Davies Short Story Competition contests to date, and the 2021 competition will be run by the Swansea University’s Cultural Institute on behalf of The Rhys Davies Trust and in association with Parthian Books.

The competition recognises the very best unpublished short stories in English in any style and on any subject up to a maximum of 5,000 words by writers aged 18 or over who are from, or living in, Wales.

The winner of the first prize will receive £1,000 and will have their winning entry included in a short story anthology to be published by Parthian Books in 2021. Ten runners-up will each receive £100 and their work will also feature in the short story anthology.

Peter Finch, Secretary of the Rhys Davies Trust, said: “As Wales’ pre-eminent short story writer it’s appropriate that the name of Rhys Davies should be attached to the latest contest for works in this much neglected form. The competition, which began in 1991, has encouraged a whole range of new writers to test out how best to manage something that’s often more substantial than a poem but nowhere near the long distance of the novel. As culture moves ever towards the swifter and the more concise, we are delighted to support the relaunch of this national Competition.”

Richard Davies of Parthian Books said: “The Rhys Davies Short Story Award is the major prize for short story writing in Wales. From Leonora Brito to Tristan Hughes to Kate Hamer, the winners have always been writers of the highest standard and it will be an honour to publish the work of the finalists in a special anthology dedicated to this Competition.”

The competition’s guest judge for 2021 is Julia Bell, a writer and Reader in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London where she is the Course Director of the MA Creative Writing. Julia’s work includes poetry, essays and short stories published in the Paris ReviewTimes Literary SupplementThe White ReviewMal JournalComma Press, and recorded for the BBC.

Julia said: “I’m honoured to be judging this prize, in memory of a writer like Rhys Davies whose work deserves to be much better known and recognised as a part of the LGBTQ canon. He was a master of the short story form, and this prize in an opportunity for writers in or from Wales to gain publication and recognition. I look forward to reading the submissions.”

Elaine Canning, Head of Cultural Engagement and Development at Swansea University, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of five new Client Partners for the Rhys Davies Trust to promote and celebrate Welsh writing in English. The relaunch of the prestigious Rhys Davies Short Story Competition on behalf of the Trust is one of the key initiatives we’ll be developing within this partnership.” 

Entries open on 30 November and the closing date is 22 March 2021. Finalists will be announced in June 2021, and the winner crowned in September.

Read the full T&Cs.

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