The RCS Library is delighted to announce that a significant recent deposit of essays from The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition has been added to its on-line catalogue Janus (ARCS 20). The competition, originally established in 1883 by the Royal Commonwealth Society, and now run in partnership with Cambridge University Press, is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing contest. It reflects the society’s enduring aim to foster the creative talent of young people throughout the Commonwealth by encouraging literacy, self-expression and imagination. Last year’s competition, which attracted almost 13,500 entries from primary to Sixth Form students from virtually every Commonwealth country, emphasises its continuing success. The theme of the 2017 competition is ‘A Commonwealth for Peace.’ The library already holds essays from 1922 to 1985 (with some gaps), and all surviving prize winning entries from these years have been digitised and are freely available on the Apollo digital repository.
The latest deposit includes prize winners from the years 1991 to 2009, and a very large collection of commended and other essays for the years 2002-09, totalling more than 20,000. The essays represent an excellent resource for many fields of research relating to education, and for assessing the opinions of intelligent, articulate and engaged young adults throughout the Commonwealth on a host of contemporary political, social and cultural issues. It is impossible here to list all the topics for each year, which range from the light-hearted to the serious, or to single out individual essays. The essays are occasionally accompanied by examiners’ reports, which contain insightful comparative analysis of entries, as an example from 2009 illustrates. One examiner of essays written by thirteen to sixteen year olds (Class B) commented upon the originality, insight and eloquence with which many responded to the themes ‘Tracks’ and ‘The Long Way Home.’ Many reflected upon the theme of war: its aftermath, consequences and the return to a home country after fighting abroad, while others addressed concerns of especial relevance to young adults such as unwanted pregnancies, abortion and abusive relationships. The examiner concluded, ‘It is remarkable to see such young writers master such sophisticated themes and topics spurred by such vague titles.’
A dedicated and conscientious team of Reader Services Assistants in the Rare Books Department have listed each essay, recording name of author, age, school, country, gender and essay topic. Thanks to their hard work, it will be easy for researchers to quickly sort through the essays, identifying for example, how many students from a particular country or gender answered individual questions, whether they lived in the developed or developing worlds, or studied in state or private schools. In the Class B examiner’s group discussed above, for example, 62 of 150 writers (almost half), were inspired by the theme ‘The Long Way Home.’ They represented thirty different countries, with the three largest numbers of entries drawn from Singapore, Pakistan and India. Many of the essays are illustrated, especially by younger authors, accompanied by beautiful original art work or photographs, which reinforce their themes. The three examples shown here were the work of eleven and twelve year olds from Class D 2009.
Researchers wishing to view these recently-acquired essays and their listings, and to request reproductions, must first consult staff in the Royal Commonwealth Society Department.
A catalogue of the full collection may be found here.
Deadline: 1 May 2017
Open to: applicants from Commonwealth countries
Prizes: Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards, winners and Runners-up will be flown to London for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in a special Awards Ceremony
The Royal Commonwealth Society is pleased to announce that the theme for The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2017 is A Commonwealth for Peace.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition, established in 1883. With thousands of young people taking part every year, it is an important way for the young voice of the Commonwealth to be developed and heard.
Building upon the 2016 theme of An Inclusive Commonwealth, this year’s topics ask for a more active understanding of the role of the Commonwealth as a network of and for democracy, Human Rights and peace. We are asking young writers to explore peace at every level, from the personal to the political to the pan-Commonwealth.
- What is in your Toolbox for Peace;
- My peaceful place;
- How can children and young people come together to build a peaceful society;
- ‘Peace cannot be learnt from a book or from religion. You have to reach out and touch the nations.’ How does this relate to the Commonwealth?
- Should you fight for peace;
- Kofi Annan said ‘Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name.’ Do you agree? Answer with reference to your country and/or the Commonwealth;
- What is the cost of peace?
The competition is open to all citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under and is open from 21 September until 1 May 2017.
One Winner and Runner-up will be chosen from each category. Winners and Runners-up will be flown to London for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in a special Awards Ceremony. A number of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be given in both the Senior and Junior categories, rewarding excellence in writing. All entrants will receive a Certificate of Participation.
How to Apply?
In order to submit your essay you will need to register, making sure to complete all the mandatory fields. The password you register with will be used to login to your account, where you can see your registration details and reference number. IMPORTANT: You must upload your entry at the point of registration (in other words, you cannot register and return later to upload your entry). Please note that you will have only one opportunity to submit your essay so ensure that the correct and final version is uploaded before exiting the registration process. After submission, you should receive a confirmation email to the address you registered with. Please note: we do not accept essays sent by email.
For more information please visit the official website.