Young Romantics Prize 2017

Prize Winners

The winners of 2017’s Keats-Shelley Young Romantics and Senior Prizes were announced by the Prize Chair, Baroness Floella Benjamin, at the Royal Society of Antiquaries on 24th May.

The evening was introduced by Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP, Minister for Culture and Digital Culture, and ended with a reading by Sir Bob Geldof of two sonnets by John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer and To One Who Has Long Been in City Pent.

The winner of 2017’s Young Romantics Essay Prize is Daniel L. Shailer with Guilt in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner (£700). Daniel is 17 and currently studying in London. He was born in Hong Kong and lived in Singapore and Switzerland before moving to the UK.

The runners-up are Ella Nowicki, On Nature and Ruins, and Isabella Welch with her essay on On Romantic Death.

The winner of 2017’s Young Romantics Poetry Prize is Tallulah Lefkowitz with The Step of Two (£1000). Tallulah is 16 years old and lives in Northern California. She spends her time dancing, writing and studying. Her ambition is to earn a degree in political science and work in public policy.

Second Prize Saskia Gardam with Tea for Two (£500). Saskia lives in West Sussex and is studying English Literature, Theology, Biology and Latin for A Level. She is preparing to enrol at Cambridge to read English this year. Her special interests lie in Renaissance Literature.

Poetry First Prize Winner

Tallulah Lefkowitz, The Step of Two

Poetry Second Prize Winner

Saskia Gardam, Tea for Two

Essay Prize Winner

Daniel L. Shailer, Guilt in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Essay Second Prize Winner

Ella Nowicki, On Nature and Ruins

Isabella Welch, On Romantic Death


Poetry Shortlist

Farah Ghafoor, The Rose Heart cloud_downloadRead Poem

Farah Ghafoor is editor-in-chief at Sugar Rascals and has had poems published in Ninth Letter, alien mouth, and Big Lucks, among others. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, and Alexandria Quarterly Emerging Artists and Writers Award. She believes that she deserves a cat.

Laura Honey, To Miss cloud_downloadRead Poem
Laura Mugford, It is OK cloud_downloadRead Poem

Laura Mugford is 18 years old and currently studying Musical Theatre at the University of Chichester. She has a passion for classical art, ancient history and writing, and takes great pride in having extensive knowledge about Harry Potter.

Lucy Tiller, To a Friend cloud_downloadRead Poem

Lucy Tiller is currently at sixth form in the Midlands, hoping to study English at the University of Cambridge in the autumn. In 2016 she was a Commended Foyle Young Poet and, earlier this year, KS5 winner of First Story’s National Poetry Competition. Aside from writing, she is also really interested in theatre, playing the flute and feminism.

Francesca Weekes, To a Friend cloud_downloadRead Poem
Rhiannon Williams, Ah Pablo cloud_downloadRead Poem

Rhiannon Williams is a young poet currently studying in London, wrestling with time in order to fit in the hours needed for development as a writer around A levels, while finding continued inspiration from all the great city. The poetry that she is currently reading is the work of Marina Tsvetaeva, Anne Carson, Warsan Shire and W.H. Auden, who inspire her with their experimental and innovative use of forms both traditional and post-modern.

Judges Comments

Essay Shortlist

Judges Comments


  • Chair of Judges

    Baroness Floella Benjamin
  • Poetry Judges

    Mathew Sweeney

    The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association was deeply saddened by the death of Matthew Sweeney, the acclaimed Irish poet and since 1999 a Poetry Judge for the Keats-Shelley Prize. Read our own appreciation: here.

    Matthew was born in County Donegal. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the London Review of Books among others. His collections include: A Dream of Maps (1981), Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997), A Smell of Fish (2000), Selected Poems (2002), Black Moon (2007), The Night Post: A New Selection (2010), and Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe Books 2015). He is the winner of many poetry awards including the Cholmondley Award, the Arts Council Award and in 2014 the Piggott Poetry Prize. He has worked as Poet in Residence at the University of East Anglia and the South Bank and elsewhere.

  • Professor Jo Shapcott

    Professor Jo Shapcott, FRSL joined us as Poet Judge in 2017. She has won numerous awards including the National Poetry Competition (twice), the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2011). She teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

    Her books include Poems 1988-1998 (2000, reprinted 2006) consisting of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). Together with Matthew Sweeney, she edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996), an international anthology of contemporary poetry in English. Her book Tender Taxes, “her version of Rilke” was published in 2002. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award.

  • Essay Judges

    Professor Sharon Ruston

    Professor Sharon Ruston is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, having previously taught at Bangor, Keele and Salford.

    Her research specialism concerns the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. Her first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley’s concept of vitality in his major poetry. Since then, she has worked on Mary Wollstonecraft’s interest in natural history, William Godwin’s interest in mesmerism, and Humphry Davy’s writings on the sublime. These form chapters of her most recent book, Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

    In 2020, Sharon published (with Tim Fulford) the four volume Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle with Oxford University Press. Read a Q&A with Sharon and Professor Fulford at the BARS Blog.

    Visit Sharon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.

  • Professor Simon Bainbridge

    Professor Simon Bainbridge is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. He teaches and writes at the University of Lancaster.

    His main research interest is in the relationship between the writing of the Romantic period and its historical context. He is the author of Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Oxford University Press, 2003) and the editor of Romanticism: A Sourcebook. He has published in journals such as Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net and The Byron Journal and has written essays and entries for An Oxford Companion to The Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, and The Oxford Handbook to English Literature and Theology. Among other current projects he is working on the literature and culture of mountaineering in the Romantic period.

    Visit Simon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.