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Grimshaw takes top literary prize

Media release

Date 12 October 2006

Grimshaw takes top literary prize

Critically-acclaimed author Charlotte Grimshaw has kept the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award all in the family.

The winner of this year’s award, Grimshaw takes home the same prize her father, CK Stead won 45 years ago.

Wellington creative writing student, Emma Gallagher takes the novice award and Epsom Girls’ Grammar School year 13 student, Kirsti Whalen wins the Young Writer’s category.

All three winners in the country’s most prestigious short story competition receive cash prizes from the sponsor, Bank of New Zealand.

Bank of New Zealand general manager marketing, Shona Bishop, says the Katherine Mansfield Awards build and develop expressions of our New Zealand identity by encouraging short story writing.

‘The awards give recognition to writers who have gone on to become major literary talents.

‘They have been an important part of the Bank’s sponsorship portfolio for more than 47 years, since the awards began.

My warmest congratulations to the winners.’

Grimshaw wins $10,000.

Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award premier category judge, Kevin Ireland, says Charlotte Grimshaw’s story, Plane Sailing, is a beautifully constructed and marvellously oblique piece of short fiction.

‘It is a discursive story written in seamlessly connected episodes, crammed with subtle detail and dialogue... It’s clever, serious, amusing and wonderfully sly. I love it.’

Charlotte Grimshaw says the award is especially pleasing at the moment as she has been focusing on writing short stories. Her first collection, Opportunity will be published shortly.

‘[Winning] this is a great encouragement. Katherine Mansfield is one of my literary heroes - I've recently re-read all of her collected works and her diaries.’

No stranger to literary success, Charlotte Grimshaw’s previous novels, Provocation and Guilt were published both locally and in the UK to critical acclaim. Her most recent novel, Foreign City was published last year.

The awards’ novice category judge, Linda Burgess, says Emma Gallagher’s winning story, the Little Grandfather Clock stood out in a strong field of more than 400 entries.

‘The story is pacy, dense, yet accessible with a wonderful insight into the human condition. [It] really did stand out as the winner.’

Katikati-raised Gallagher gained a BA degree in art history and theatre and film from Victoria University. She returned this year to do her MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, where she is working on her first novel. Gallagher receives $1,500 for her winning story.

Epsom Girls’ Grammar School has once again stamped its mark on the awards with year 13 pupil, Kirsti Whalen (17) taking the top secondary school prize. The school has won four of the last seven competitions.

Kirsti Whalen warded off 220 entries to take the prize with her story, Postcards. Both Kirsti Whalen and her school win $1,500.

Her story earned the highest praise from category judge, Tania Roxborogh: ‘This is an incredibly sophisticated short story. One wants to re-read it because it is so good.’

Ms Whalen says winning the award has been a goal for the last three years.

‘I have looked at it as the ultimate goal that I could accomplish while at high school. Winning such a prestigious award has built my confidence in my writing and now I feel even more motivated to take writing as far as I can.’

In addition to winning the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Young Writer’s Award, Ms Whalen has had some success in the Bell Gully poetry competition. She hopes to complete a degree in arts when she leaves school.

In addition to CK Stead, other recipients of the Katherine Mansfield Award include Keri Hulme, Vincent O’Sullivan and the late Maurice Shadbolt.

Bank of New Zealand has sponsored the awards - which aim to foster the country’s literature - for more than four decades. They are New Zealand’s longest-running short story awards, established in 1959.

Katherine Mansfield’s father, Sir Harold Beauchamp, was a director of Bank of New Zealand, a position he held of 38 years. He was also the chairman of the board for 17 years.

The Awards were announced tonight by Kathryn Ryan at a ceremony at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington.


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