Toulmin Prize

Toulmin Prize

Toulmin Prize 2024

We are pleased to announce that the Toulmin Prize 2024 is now open to all amateur* writers over the age of 16 for submissions of short stories. Stories should be about some aspect of life in North-East Scotland and may be written in Scots, including Doric, or English, or a mixture of the two. Previous prize-winners cannot submit an entry.

The winner will receive a £500 prize, and the story will be read by well-known North-East writer, Sheena Blackhall, at a prominent University of Aberdeen event in September.

A short story of up to 4,000 words in length should be submitted by 27 August, 2024. An A4 hard copy and an electronic submission in Word (.doc format), should be sent to Alison Sharman, Toulmin Prize Co-ordinator, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, MacRobert Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA. E-mail:
Please attach the Entry Form and Declaration:
Entry Form and Declaration

(*For the purposes of this prize, a professional writer is considered to be one who earns more than 51% of their income through writing, and/or has had a solo work (book) published with a major UK publisher.)


The Toulmin Prize Book

was launched on Thursday 18 November 2021

The Toulmin Prize publication, Dinna Mess wi the Popo & other stories of the North-East of Scotland, with readings and interviews, and featuring Sheena Blackhall.

Order a copy of the Toulmin Publication here.


Toulmin Prize

The Toulmin Prize, established in 2008 and awarded annually, is a short-story prize commemorating the work of one of North-East Scotland’s finest exponents of written Doric. There is a cash prize of £500 for the winning entry. The award for the best entry will be made at the University of Aberdeen, where the winning story will be read out by the well-known north-east writer, Sheena Blackhall.

Emeritus Professor Ian Russell, former Director of the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen, says: ‘We’re proud to be able to honour John Reid and his work in this way. His writing is powerful, evocative and witty, and he is one of the finest exponents of writing in the North-East. We have had a terrific response to the previous competitions and the standard of entries has been superb.’

The Prize is generously sponsored by grandsons of Toulmin (John Reid), Steven and Martin Reid. The winner receives a £500 prize, and the story is read by well-known North-East writer, Sheena Blackhall, at a University of Aberdeen event.

Previous Prize-winners


Toulmin Prize 2023

Congratulations to the Toulmin Prize winners for 2023.
Tracy Geddes
 and Rachel Matheson share the prize this year, as the judges felt that the standard was so high they could not choose between them.

Pictured are (left to right) Martin Reid, grandson of John Reid (aka Toulmin) with Tracy Geddes and Rachel Matheson.

Their stories, A Silent Prayer, and A Puckle Mindins were read aloud by Sheena Blackhall at the prize giving presentation and reading on Friday 22 September in the King’s Pavilion as part of the WayWORD Festival at the University.

You can read the winning stories here:

A Silent Prayer by Tracy Geddes

A Puckle Mindins by Rachel Matheson

Also, this year for the first time there are four Highly Commended awards made, again as the standard was so high, the judges felt that they warranted special mention. They are:

Where are the Gargoyles? by Abdul-Basit Issah
Be the Change by Lorraine McBeath
The Edge by Marka Rifat
Another Place by Vivien Strachan

Toulmin Prize 2022

Prizewinning Story A Burden by Brenda Crane

Congratulations to Brenda Crane, who lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

You can read the winning story A Burden here

Highly Commended
The judges of the Toulmin Prize found that the standard of entries was high this year, and have made Highly Commended awards to Deborah Leslie from Inverurie  for her story Skint, and to George Wood from Aberdeen for his story A Trip tae the Sannies

Toulmin Prize 2020

Prizewinning story The Catch by Ewan Gault

Congratulations to Ewan Gault, an English teacher at a sixth form college in Tottenham, London.

His winning story is read by Sheena Blackhall.

You can read the winning story The Catch here

The judges of the Toulmin Prize found that the standard of entries was particularly high this year, and have made a commended award to Marka Rifat, a retired communications officer from Stonehaven, for Into the Sweet. You can read the story here.

Toulmin Prize 2019

Congratulations to our winner, Lyly Lepinay, and to the commended writers, Rae Cowie, Ruth MacLure, Mike Moir, and Anna Neil.

Click on the respective titles to read the stories on the Scottish Field website:

Toulmin 2019 prizewinner Lyly Lepinay with her family
Toulmin 2019 prize-winner Lyly Lepinay with her family
About David Toulmin

David Toulmin at his typewriter

John Reid (1913–1998) was an Aberdeenshire farm labourer from Rathen, near Fraserburgh, who spent most of his life working long hours for very small rewards.

In odd moments he jotted down short stories, character studies, and bothy tales. Eventually, as David Toulmin, he had a few articles printed in local newspapers.

The first of his ten books was published when he was 59 years old. His work consists mostly of short stories and reminiscences, with his one novel, Blown Seed, painting a harsh picture of farm life. 

In his later years he moved to Pittodrie Place in Aberdeen (later to Westhill) and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Aberdeen in 1986.