Winners of Kingsmead Young Writers’ Competition 2023

The winners were announced at the Kingsmead Book Fair on 27 May 2023

Kingsmead Book Fair announced the winners of the second Young Writers’ Competition which attracted over 380 entries across the country.

What is the KBF Young Writers’ Competition?

Kingsmead College, a girls’ school in Johannesburg recently announced the winners of their second national Young Writers’ Competition. The competition, run alongside their annual Kingsmead Book Fair, aims to build a new generation of young writers in South Africa.

Launched in 2022, the competition is open to all school children aged 6-18. With recent reports showing that only 18% of Grade 4’s can read for meaning and less than 50% of children in non-fee paying schools know the alphabet by Grade 2, South Africa’s youth are in a dire literacy crisis. Despite this crisis, there is no national reading plan and no progress on implementing vital interventions.

In addition to tackling the literacy crisis from the early childhood development stage, it is crucial to encourage a love of reading and writing for enjoyment as well as meaning. Initiatives that focus on literacy will play an increasingly important role in this pursuit.

The winning formula

The competition called for aspiring young writers to submit their original short stories based on this year’s topic: courage.  The judges were hard at work reading all the entries and selecting the finalists and ultimately the winner in each age category. The finalists were chosen for their magic combination of creativity and imagination, plotting, structure and language and, ultimately, a WOW factor that makes us want to read more. The judges were impressed with the high standard and author Salamina Mosese said: “The future of SA writing is clearly bright!”

Prizes include a R1500 book voucher sponsored by Exclusive Books and R1000 cash from Standard Bank. In addition, each story will also be part of an eBook published on the Kingsmead Book Fair site.

Writing advice

Advice for entrants next year is to find the story that hasn’t been told, or tell the story that has been told, but in an unusual way. “Surprise us and make us remember your story,’ says Corinne Rosmarin, curator of the Kingsmead Book Fair Children’s and Teen Programme.  “Spend time analysing what makes a good author stand out.  Find your own style and write a little every day. And keep entering competitions!”  For more writing tips check out this blog and these notes by author Jarred Thompson, author of the Institute for Creative Dying 

If you entered and weren’t successful this year, keep writing and look at the winning and finalist entries to see what made them stand out.  Don’t lose heart because writers will face many setbacks and rejections in their career.

Ultimately, as author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “My suggestion is that you start with the love and then work very hard and try to let go of the results. Cast out your will, and then cut the line. Send your work off to editors and agents as much as possible, show it to your neighbors, plaster it on the walls of the bus stops – just don’t sit on your work and suffocate it. At least try. And when the powers-that-be send you back your manuscript (and they will), take a deep breath and try again. I often hear people say, “I’m not good enough yet to be published.” That’s quite possible. Probable, even. All I’m saying is: Let someone else decide that. Magazines, editors, agents – they all employ young people… whose job it is to read through piles of manuscripts and send you back letters telling you that you aren’t good enough yet: LET THEM DO IT. Don’t pre-reject yourself. That’s their job, not yours. Your job is only to write your heart out, and let destiny take care of the rest.”

The YWC Judges

Judges included South African authors such as Alex Latimer, Bianca Flanders, Salamina Moosa, Maryanne Bester, Bridget Krone, Lori-Ann Preston, Onke Mazibuko, Jarred Thompson and Dr Kristien Potgieter. Representing the publishers were Jacana’s Carol Broomhall, Imagnary House’s Brad Harris, Jonathan Ball’s Verushka Louw and Maryanne Hanock, and curator of the Kingsmead Book Fair Corinne Rosmarin and Exclusive Books Marketing GM Batya Bricker.

Look out for next year’s Young Writers’ Competition which will be launched in February 2024.

All winning and highly commended stories can be read on the Kingsmead Book Fair site in June.

Any queries can be sent to


And the winners are…

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"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in"


Robert Louis Stevenson

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