The Keats-Shelley Prize competition, a yearly focus for creative and academic energy and originality, mirrors our eternal absorption with the achievement of the Romantic poets, with their contemporaries in other arts and with the dreams and obsessions of their era. The Prize helps to ensure the safeguard of Rome's Keats-Shelley House as a cultural link between Britain and Italy and a vital international resource for the study and enjoyment of Romanticism in all its turbulent beauty'
Jonathan Keates is a novelist, critic, biographer and, formerly, teacher at the City of London School. He is also Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund.
As a former judge of the Keats Shelley Memorial Prize I am delighted to hear of the Young Romantics Prize for for younger writers. Nothing could be more appropriate, given Mary Shelley's own achievement at 18: Frankenstein. Those with the urge to write tend to do so from a young age, and while the activity does not have to be fuelled by awards and recognition, there is nothing more encouraging for a young writer than a nod of approval from somewhere other than school and home. So a prize from such a prestigious organisation is much to be welcomed. I was struck, when a judge a number of years ago, by the range and quality of the entries that I read - the poetry, the essays. I remember finding it extremely hard to come to a decision, which is actually what you want, with a literary prize - an embarras de richesses.
Frankenstein itself is surely inspirational, the original science fiction story, prompt for so many references in both fiction and film. You do not need to have read the novel to recognise at once the concept: the laboratory creation that takes on a life of its own. Today we would be thinking robots and artificial intelligence. It will be fascinating to see if any of the entries for the new category choose to go down this road. And I would wonder, too, how prose and poetry will divide. The short story is a supremely difficult form: "short" is its only inviting feature. It requires some sophistication, in a tyro writer, to see that that can be a deceptive requirement; the challenge is to pack in both story - narrative - and some significance over and beyond that. And then poetry has its own challenges and pitfalls; again, intriguing to see how young writers will deal with this.
Dame Penelope Lively is a novelist for both adults and children. Her works include the Booker-winner Passing On, Moon Tiger and, most recently, How It All Began. Her classic children's story The Ghost of Thomas Kempe won the Carnegie Medal in 1973. http://www.penelopelively.net/
The wonderful Keats-Shelley Memorial Association, which keeps up the Keats-Shelley house in Rome with all its literary associations and memorabilia, is indefatigable in promoting interest in Romantic poetry among the young --and sustaining it in the old. It also promotes good new writing inspired in some way by the work of the Romantic generation. This is the anniversary of the famous summer which begat both the literary vampires and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that is a remarkable fantasy of a very young girl as well as a compendium of Romantic themes associated with the men in her life, especially her father Godwin, her lover Shelley and close friend Byron. I urge people to read it again as well as the other fascinating works of 1816--and then start writing.
Professor Janet Todd is an academic and author. She has written biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft, Fanny Wollstonecraft and Aphra Behn, edited Wollstonecraft's Works (with Marilyn Butler) and Jane Austen's late letters, and compiled an encyclopedia of women writers. A novel, A Man of Genius, will be published in March 2016. https://www.bitterlemonpress.com/products/a-man-of-genius