Doric writer remembered with short story prize

A short story prize will be launched today (Monday November 15 2010) to commemorate the work of one of the north-east’s finest exponents of written Doric.

Today (Monday, November 15), the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute launches the 2011 Toulmin Prize, in conjunction with the Word Festival – with £500 up for grabs for the winning entry.

The competition, now in its fourth year, commemorates the work of one of the north-east’s finest exponents of the short story.

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. They consist mostly of short stories and reminiscences, with his one novel, Blown Seed, painting a harsh picture of farm life.

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

The Toulmin Prize is open to all amateur writers over the age of 16. The story should be concerned with some aspect of life in north-east Scotland and may be written in Scots, including Doric, or English or a mixture of the two.

In addition to the cash prize, this year the winning entry will be published in the Leopard Magazine and subsequently featured on the website of the Scots Language Centre.

The award for the best entry will be made at the 2011 Word Festival weekend (May 13-15) at the University of Aberdeen, when the winning story will be read out by the well-known north-east writer, Sheena Blackhall.

Dr Ian Russell, Director of the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen, said: “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 three previous competitions and the standard of entries has been superb. I am looking forward to seeing the selection for 2011 and would urge people with a tale to tell to pick up their pen and stretch their imagination.”

A short story of up to 4,000 words in length should be submitted by March 31, 2011. An A4 hard copy and an electronic submission should be sent to Dr Ian Russell, Director, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, MacRobert Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 5UA. An entry form and conditions can be obtained at, or from the Elphinstone Institute.

Entry form and declaration