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Year 13 Pupil Penelope Wins Joe Orton Creative Writing Competition

Congratulations to Penelope in Year 13, who recently won the Joe Orton Creative Writing Competition 2021.

This annual competition is run by The School of Arts at the University of Leicester and invites A level students to write an Edna Welthorpe letter. ‘Edna Welthorpe’ was the persona that Orton invented to embody the values he abjured – a middle-class, middlebrow, conservative. Through Edna’s letters of complaint (or praise), Orton mocks convention.

The Joe Orton Creative Writing Competition is funded by a kind donation from Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Speaking about the competition, Penelope said:

‘Scrolling through the JAGS Sixth Form weekly notices, I looked for something to prompt me to write. I wanted to turn away from my own thoughts and see what topics occupied other minds. I met Edna Welthorpe and instantly loved her character (however difficult she may seem!). Each letter was exquisitely fiddly and exasperating in its own fantastic way. What’s most successful about Joe Orton’s Edna is the universality of the dialogue. That is to say that there is a bit of Edna in everyone, which is the very reason why we can’t stop ourselves from laughing at what is quite frankly a reflection of the never-satisfied human brain. This, I thought, is writing with no dress code.  

I was glad to find a new interest in Joe Orton, whose works are still very much relevant, thanks to this competition. As I wrote, I realised how easy it was to place importance on such trivial things. Writing about potatoes, carrots and mushrooms can bring as much joy as any other subject in poetry, which is pretty wonderful. 

Winning the Joe Orton competition is easily the most exciting event in my writing journey so far- it has certainly kick-started a whole new world of possibilities!’

You can read Penelope’s winning entry here. Congratulations to her!

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