Have you a tale to tell?

Anyone with a passion for writing about the North-East is invited to put pen to paper in their native tongue for a short story competition which carries a £500 prize.

The University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute has launched the 2012 Toulmin Prize, which commemorates the work of one of the North-East’s finest exponents of short stories.

The competition, now in its fifth year, is held in memory of John Reid (1913-1998) - 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, the winning entry will be published in the Leopard magazine and featured on the website of the Scots Language Centre.

The closing date for 2012 entries is March 31 and entries should be no more than 4,000 words.

Professor 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 in the North-East.

“We have had a terrific response to the four previous competitions and the standard of entries has been very high. I am looking forward to seeing the selection for 2012 and would urge people with a tale to tell to pick up their pen and stretch their imagination.”

An A4 hard copy and an electronic submission should be sent to Professor 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 www.abdn.ac.uk/elphinstone, or from the Elphinstone Institute.