Student Lottie Mills wins the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2020

Newnham student Lottie Mills has won the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2020 for her short story ‘The Changeling’: the second time that she’s been shortlisted for this prestigious award. 

The BBC Young Writers’ Award is a national competion with young writers from across the country submitting their best stories to a distinguished panel of judges. The judges are on the look out for “originality and flare, deft use of language and a skilful exploration of what a short story can be” – which Lottie’s story certainly has.

Lottie is a 2nd year English Literature student at Newnham; she explained that in fact it was being shortlisted for the YWA in the past that encouraged her to apply here. The 2018 award ceremony took place at the University Library: seeing Cambridge in person, and meeting so many talented women, made her decide to apply to the University herself.

Her short story, ‘The Changeling’, was inspired by an essay on A Midsummer Night’s Dream for her degree. Lottie explains,

“As a disabled person, my stories are quite often preoccupied with ideas of otherhood, based around characters who are outcast from their society in some way or another. I had been researching fairy-related myths for a university essay and when I came across the idea of ‘changelings’, it really stuck in my mind – especially the modern theory that children suspected of being these fairy imposters were actually displaying symptoms of various disabilities. I really wanted to write a story which would show the strengths of disabled people or people who are ‘othered’ in some way, rather than portraying them as disadvantaged and in need of ‘fixing’ as so many stories do.”

Katie Thistleton, chair of the judges said, “We were blown away by ‘The Changeling’, it’s simply beautiful. I love the way it uses fairy mythology to tell a story about difference, disability, acceptance and coming of age. We had no idea that Lottie, who has been shortlisted for the Award before, was the writer when we chose the winner, but it shows what an incredible talent she is. I’m so happy she has won and is considering a career as an author after being inspired by the Young Writers’ Award.”

Lottie is now one of many outstanding writers, poets and novelists who have attended Newnham: we look forward to following her future literary career.

Listen to the story online