Brief History of the Allingham/CWA Short Story Competition

The CWA Short Story Competition was launched in 2014 under the Chairmanship of Alison Joseph. The Margery Allingham Society sponsored the enterprise, awarding a substantial prize to the winner. Margery Allingham’s celebrated definition of a mystery was adopted as a touchstone and a number of competitors have drawn on it, not least Peter Guttridge, the winner in 2016. Happily we are able to continue to sponsor the competition.

In 2014, three stories stood out from the rest and all three authors generously gave permission for their work to be published in ‘The Bottle Street Gazette’, our Journal. The winner was ‘Acknowledgements’ by Martin Edwards, an object lesson in the art of seeming to tell one story while actually telling another (though not exactly as Gwendoline Butler meant it in so defining the art of detective fiction). The runners-up were ‘Picture Imperfect’ by Ian White, a fantastic tale that brilliantly imposes its own mad logic, and ‘Broken Bracken by David Buckley, a subtle, touching story with, very much, the element of satisfaction that Margery Allingham demanded.

The entry was less impressive in the second year, 2015, and only the clear winner made it into the Gazette. This was ‘Game Over’ by Lesley Mace, a poignant story set in the harsh world where social workers grapple with the grim realities most of us are shielded from.

In 2016 the winner was ‘The Box-shaped Mystery’ by Peter Guttridge, an impressive piece composed meticulously – highly imaginatively – to accommodate every aspect of Margery Allingham’s definition. It duly appeared the Gazette, as did the runner-up, a clever story by Ian Cowmeadow, ramifying from the discovery by a woman plumber of a finger in a waste-pipe.

The winner in 2017 was ‘Box Clever’ by Sam Hepburn, an astonishing performance from the electronic age, narrated by one of those exceptional people whose brains enable them to create an alternative reality

Judges for the competition have included Imogen Robertson, Janet Laurence, Jennifer Palmer and Barry Pike. Thanks are due to Mary Anderson, who has taken over the reins for our involvement, most efficiently; and to the authors who have allowed us to publish their stories. We look forward to next year’s entries.
Barry Pike

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