The Young Romantics Writing Prize was inaugurated in 2015 to encourage poets and essayists aged 16-18 to respond to the work of the Romantics. The first Young Romantic Judge was the former Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, followed by Professor Richard Holmes, Liz Lochhead, and Simon Barnes. 2022’s Prize Judge is Fiona Sampson.

Young Romantics Prize 2022

Prize Winners

Fiona Sampson announces the winners of 2022’s Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Prizes. Read the winning poems and essays by scrolling down to Shortlist.

Poetry First Prize Winner

Sophia Liu, Elegy to the Motherland

Poetry Second Prize Winner

Gemma Rice, Elegy for Hedgehog

Judge's Comments

Winning Poem: Sophia Liu, Ode to the Motherland
‘An immensely powerful poem which uses intense musicality as rhetoric, and sustains a sense of movement, both in the most Shelleyian of ways. This Ode harnesses exceptional technique and accomplishment to a feelingful, and socio-politically significant, topic – this too a Romantic approach.’

Runner-up: Gemma Rice,Elegy for Hedgehog
A wryly perceptive reflection on mutability, this poem moves part mere description to imaginative reconstruction.’
Fiona Sampson

Essay Prize Winner

Chloe Wilcox, How Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’ lives on in political thought and action

Essay Second Prize Winner

Gunisha Aggarwal, Que sais-je? The Appeal of the Second-Generation Romantic Poets .

Judge's Comments

Winning Essay: Chloe Wilcox, ‘How Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’ lives on in political thought and action’
‘True to its title, this brilliant piece of work seeks out traces of Shelley in contemporary culture. The originality of its approach, its original research, and the sophistication of the writing make this exceptionally exciting.’

Runner up: Gunisha Aggarwal, ‘Que sais-je? The Appeal of the Second-Generation Romantic Poets’
‘This is an essay which has the enthusiasm, range and depth of an original thinker: perhaps a developing literary writer. It is well-argued, and if there are occasional slight smudges of infelicity in the ‘scholarly diction’, still, this is the mind of someone I’d delight to have been taught by, or to hear speak in public or broadcast. The kind of communicator Romanticism needs!’
Fiona Sampson


Read all the shortlisted Poems and Essays below. The poems were chosen by Professor Deryn Rees-Jones and Will Kemp for the Poetry Prize. Professor Sharon Ruston and Professor Simon Bainbridge selected the essays.

Poets were asked to write on 2022’s Prize theme of ‘ELEGY’. This commemorates two bicentenaries: the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley on 8th June 1822 and the composition of Adonais, Shelley’s elegy for John Keats, a year earlier in 1821.

  • Listen to Fiona Sampson read and discuss Shelley’s Hymn to Intellectual Beauty on the Keats-Shelley Podcast
  • Essayists were asked two questions:

    • How does the poetry of Keats, Shelley and the Romantics live on in 2022?
    • Is the poetry of Shelley, Keats and the Romantics best enjoyed by young readers?

    You can also visit our Google Earth Elegy World Map which we will continue to update and expand through the autumn.

    Finally, a huge thank you to the sponsors of 2022’s Young Romantics Prize:

    British Italian Society
    D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
    Golsoncott Foundation
    John S. Cohen Foundation
    Michael Marks Charitable Trust
    PF Charitable Trust
    Tedworth Charitable Trust

    Poetry Shortlist

    Oshadha Perera, empty skies Read Poem
    Gemma Rice, Elegy for Hedgehog Read Poem
    Sophia Liu, Elegy to the Motherland Read Poem
    Brooke Nind, Elegy for Home Read Poem
    Eve Connor, Mayakovsky Street Read Poem
    Ellery Ibo, Until the Burial Read Poem

    Essay Shortlist

    Sophia Hussain, 'Is the poetry of Keats best enjoyed by young readers?' Read Essay
    Chloe Wilcox, 'How Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’ lives on in political thought and action' Read Essay
    Gunisha Aggarwal, 'Que sais-je? The Appeal of the Second-Generation Romantic Poets .' Read Essay
    Camila Melo, 'The connection between English Romanticism and Youth through the centuries.' Read Essay


    Congratulations to everyone who made the Longlists of 2022’s Young Romantics Essay and Poetry Prizes. Read all the entries below.

    Poetry Longlist

    Gemma Rice, Elegy for Hedgehog cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Brooke Nind, Elegy for Home cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Sophia Liu, Elegy to the Motherland cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Oshadha Perera, empty skies cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Emilia Koczy, Fragment cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Eve Connor, Mayakovsky Street cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Ellery Ibo, Until the Burial cloud_downloadRead Poem
    Arim Lee, X-FILES cloud_downloadRead Poem

    Essay Longlist

    Isabel Gilbey, 'How does the poetry of Keats, Shelley and the Romantics live on in 2022? ' cloud_downloadRead Essay
    Chloe Wilcox, 'How Shelley’s ‘Mask of Anarchy’ lives on in political thought and action' cloud_downloadRead Essay
    Sophia Hussain, 'Is the poetry of Keats best enjoyed by young readers?' cloud_downloadRead Essay
    Toni Agbede, 'Is Shelley best enjoyed by young readers?' cloud_downloadRead Essay
    Gunisha Aggarwal, 'Que sais-je? The Appeal of the Second-Generation Romantic Poets .' cloud_downloadRead Essay
    Florence Hall, 'When I have fears: Romantic poetry as support in the climate crisis ' cloud_downloadRead Essay


    • Chair of Judges

      Fiona Sampson

      Fiona Sampson is a writer and poet. Published in thirty-eight languages, she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Wordsworth Trust, has published twenty-nine books and has received an MBE for Services to Literature.

      She’s served on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature and is Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund; other honours include the Newdigate Prize, Cholmondeley Prize, and various awards from the Arts Councils of England and of Wales, Society of Authors, Poetry Book Society and AHRC, and Book of the Year selections. She recently received the 2019 Naim Frashëri Laureateship, the 2020 European Lyric Atlas Prize, and, for Come Down, Wales Poetry Book of the Year 2021.

      Sampson’s studies of writing process include Beyond the Lyric and Lyric Cousins: Poetry and Musical Form. She edited Percy Bysshe Shelley (Faber). A critic, librettist and literary translator, she was editor of Poetry Review 2005-12 and has served internationally on the boards of publishing houses and literary NGOs, and on literary juries.

      Sampson’s writing about place including Limestone Country, a Guardian Book of the Year 2017. Her internationally acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley (2018) was finalist for the Biographers’ Club first biography prize, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2021), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Washington Post and Prospect Book of the Year 2021, longlisted for the 2022 PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

    • Poetry Judges

      Professor Deryn Rees-Jones

      Professor Deryn Rees-Jones was born in Liverpool with family links to North Wales, where she later studied English at the University of Bangor, before completing a literature PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is Professor of Poetry at the University of Liverpool.

      She won an Eric Gregory award in 1993 and ‘The Memory Tray’ (Seren, 1995) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her other works are ‘Signs Round a Dead Body’ (Seren, 1998), ‘Quiver’ (Seren, 2004), and a groundbreaking critical study of twentieth-century women’s poetry, ‘Consorting with Angels’ (Bloodaxe, 2005), which was published alongside her accompanying anthology ‘Modern Women Poets’ (Bloodaxe, 2005). Deryn’s selected poems, ‘What It’s Like to Be Alive’, was published in 2016 and is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.

      In 2004 Deryn was named as one of Mslexia’s ‘top ten’ women poets of the decade, as well as being chosen as one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation poets.

      Deryn has considerable experience as a poetry judge, including the National Poetry Competition, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Prize (Poetry) and every two years chair the judging panel for the English Association’s Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for a best first collection of poetry.

      Deryn’s most recent book is Paula Rego: The Art of Story, the first full-length survey of one of the most distinctive and important modern artists.

      Visit Deryn’s website here.

      Her profile page at the University of Liverpool is here.

    • Will Kemp

      Will Kemp has won the Keats-Shelley Prize (2016), the Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition (2014), the Debut Collection Award (2010), the Envoi International (2010) and the Cinnamon Short Story Award (2015). He has also been runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Prize (2013) and the Poetry Society’s Stanza Competition (2011), and highly commended in other competitions, including the Bridport and the Plough. Will regards a commendation in the Keats-Shelley Prize 2006 as the turning point in his writing career since it spurred him on during a time of self-doubt.

      Cinnamon Press has published his collections to date, Nocturnes (2011), Lowland (2013) and The Painters Who Studied Clouds (2016), as well as his award-winning pamphlet, The Missing Girl (2015). His poems have been published in various journals, including: Ambit, Envoi, The Guardian, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, Magma, The North, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poetry News, Poetry Scotland, The Rialto, The Times and Smith’s Knoll.

    • 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.