Fringe Box



Guildford Dragon Theatre Reviewer Alice Wins National Story Award

Published on: 3 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 6 Nov, 2020

Alice Fowler

A local writer who reviews theatre for The Guildford Dragon has won a national award.

Alice Fowler, a former feature writer at the Daily Mail, took the short story prize in the competition held by The Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) and Dorothy Dunnett Society.

The judges said: “Alice’s story The Race, had us rooting for it from the starting line. The use of a race to discuss social issues and racism is sheer brilliance and the author’s mastery of building atmosphere that tracks with the story’s mounting tension had us gripped.

“The competition was tough this year, but this short story won by a nose.”

Ms Fowler said: “Like many Dragon readers, I enjoy David Rose’s local history pieces. In the summer, I read a wonderful piece by David about the Gypsy encampment, and school, at the Hurtwood during the 1920s (see: Clues To Surrey’s First School For Gypsies Deep In The Hurtwood).

“As usual, David provided lots of colourful detail. I was particularly struck that, once a year, village children were encouraged to run races against the Gypsy children.

“Reading between the lines, I could see the relationship between the village, Ewhurst, and the Gypsies was not always easy. I imagined what it must have been like for the Gypsy children to race against the village kids, who probably looked down on them for most of the year.

“My story is narrated by a Gypsy girl and set within a single race. As she runs, the girl reflects on many aspects of her life: her mother, father, sickly brother, teacher, the village kids, local landowner and so on.

“The HWA called it ‘a heart in your mouth portrait of bravery in a fully realised community’.

“I would really like to thank David for inspiring my story. Having previously attended his and Geoff Burch’s fascinating talk about Gypsies, I was already interested in the subject and the Dragon piece gave the extra push I needed.

“I also read Alan Wright’s book Their Day has Passed: Gypsies in Victorian and Edwardian Surrey.

“There are so many creative writers in and around Guildford (many, like me, benefiting from excellent courses at the Guildford Institute and Adult Learning Centre).

“Writing, as any writer knows, can feel a long and solitary pursuit, which makes winning a prize like this all the more encouraging.

“I am now writing a novel, set in Victorian Surrey, also inspired by our rich local history and landscape. I hope to let Dragon readers know more about it before too long.”

Ms Fowler’s winning story will be published shortly in a collection of six stories from the HWA. Find her on Twitter at @alicefwrites

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