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Essex student’s tasty prize-winning story impresses Mary Berry and Philip Pullman

  • Date

    Wed 26 Jul 17

A dark fairy tale has won Essex PhD student Nicky Winder the top prize of £10,000 in an international food writing competition and enthusiastic praise from the judging panel which included legendary Great British Bake Off presenter Mary Berry and leading writer Philip Pullman.

Nicky is completing a PhD in our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies while also teaching English at Colchester Sixth Form College.

Her entry for the annual Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing was up against over 1,000 entries from across the globe, including stories from China, Russia, South Africa and Poland.

The challenge was to create a short story – with a maximum of 2,500 words – featuring food or drink. In Nicky’s story Bait, Madame de Roubigne fills a picnic basket with treats, which her daughter then carries into the forest to meet her fate.

The panel of judges included Mary Berry and Philip Pullman plus Jeremy and Hilary Mogford. They described Nicky’s work as a “beautifully-written fable, with a twist in the tail.”

The idea for Nicky’s award-winning story stemmed from childhood, as she explained: “I am interested in taking established characters, that people think they are familiar with, and turning them into something different – giving the whole story a completely different perspective. In my 20s I wrote a series of poems based on fairy tales, and this story was really an extension of one of those,” she said.

She has previously written student textbooks and also works as a therapist. Her creative writing is intended for an adult audience and has included a re-working of other fairy tales, myths and legends, as well as a book of humorous letters, the Xmas Files, from a less-than convivial Father Christmas.