Nan Shepherd

Nan Shepherd

Nan Shepherd Competition 2024

Nan Shepherd was among the first women to graduate from the University of Aberdeen and her experience there inspired her to devote the rest of her life to education and literature. Although she is best known today as the much-praised nature writer of The Living Mountain who appears on the Royal Bank five-pound note she accomplished much more in a lifetime of remarkable achievement, despite being notoriously modest. She was a celebrated writer of prose and poetry, an editor, lecturer, traveller and tireless enthusiast who loved literature and landscape. Perhaps most imprtantly she encouraged and supported young writers in their work and inspired generations of teachers with her passion, particularly for north-east writing.

She graduated in 1915 but kept a close relationship with the University of Aberdeen throughout her life, guiding and editing Alma Mater magazine throughout the Great War, later editing the Aberdeen University Review and giving enthralling literature lectures until she was well into her eighties - always without notes.

Nan recognised the adventure of knowledge and believed that "a torch cannot be handed on that has not been lit" and it is in her spirit of creative encouragement that the Word Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen introduces a writing competition in her name. It is hoped that her legacy will further inspire young writers on their creative journey.

The theme this year is "Place and belonging" and the competition is open to S5 and S6 pupils in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Morayshire and Angus.

Closing date for submissions is 15th March 2024
Entries will be judged by staff from the University of Aberdeen.
There will be a 1st prize of £250 and two runners-up prizes of £100.

The entry form can be downloaded as a PDF here or a Word Document here
Teaching notes can be found here

The Nan Shepherd Shorts - A Video Series

Who is Nan Shepherd? What does she mean to you? 

We asked WORD Centre Fellows, University of Aberdeen students and alumni to express their views about how the North East writer has influenced and shaped their writing and critical thinking. The result is a series of short videos with readings, stories, opinions, as each of them interprets the questions in their own, original ways. Filmed at home during the lockdown months, we come together sharing stories about writing, reading, and exploring the North East region. Watch below! 

Episode 1: Jen Cooper

Episode 2: Darryl Peers

Episode 3: Shane Strachan

Episode 4: Alya Rafiq

Episode 5: Kirsty Lawie