Lucy Wins Thomas Hardy Society Essay Prize | King's College Taunton

Lucy Wins Thomas Hardy Society Essay Prize

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Lower Sixth pupil Lucy MacGillivray has won a prestigious essay competition.

The Thomas Hardy Society is an educational charity founded in 1968 with the intention of promoting public knowledge and understanding of the life and works of the Dorset poet and novelist.

For the first time ever, the Society has sponsored an essay competition for Years 10, 11 and A level students in the UK and aboard, who are taking UK examinations (GCSE, IGCSE or A level).

Students were invited to contribute essays of 2000 to 3000 words on any aspect of the work and legacy of Thomas Hardy.

Lucy’s winning essay about emotion and memory in Hardy's poem The Voice received some excellent feedback from the judges. They felt the essay “maintained a high level of discussion throughout, and offered a controlled, sophisticated and sustained appreciation both of details and of the poem as a whole.”They went on: “A strength of your essay is that you made me want to enter into dialogue with you where I disagreed with your phrasing or interpretation. In that sense this was a stimulating essay that took on the process of literary debate.” Both judges came away wanting to discuss further and to re-read and re-think specific areas of the poem.

Joe Messenger, another Lower Sixth student, also entered the competition and received an Honourable Mention for his essay ‘How are memory and emotion important in Thomas Hardy's After A Journey?'.

The judges felt that Joe “demonstrated a good knowledge of the wider critical and literary context” adding, “there was much to enjoy and admire” in his essay. Whilst in places they said the essay went a little “off-beam” and could have “been improved by questioning the otherwise assumed relationship between the content of the poem and its biographical context”, Joe’s essay was deemed to be sensitive, with “delicate focus” and it was acknowledged that this is a difficult poem to analyse, and credit should be given for taking it on.

Commenting, Head of English, Toby Smith, said: “I’m delighted for Lucy and for Joe too. Exploring the technical aspects of poetry, such as form and language choice, in the context of the world in which it is written, is a demanding skill, and to develop a sensitive interpretation, more impressive still. The students’ initiative and independent thought, in conjunction with some excellent teaching, has produced some intriguing responses. Both students are considering applications for English literature degrees, and it’s great to see their potential rewarded by the recognition received in this way.”

Head of Sixth Form, Oliver Ridley added: “It is a great privilege to work with young people who love their subjects and are keen to enter competitions like this. I am especially delighted to see our students take an interest in West Country writers.”

Please click here to read Lucy and Joe's entries.


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