Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2021 Shortlist Announced

Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2021 Shortlist Announced

Following its recent relaunch, the 2021 shortlist for the Rhys Davies Short Story competition has been announced, with 12 Welsh and Wales-based writers commended for their unpublished short stories. 

First established in 1991, the Rhys Davies Short Story competition has announced the shortlist for its ninth contest. The 2021 competition will be the first to follow its relaunch by Swansea University’s Cultural Institute, on behalf of The Rhys Davies Trust, in association with Parthian Books. The competition relaunch was first announced at the end of 202o.

The competition seeks the best short stories written in English under 5,000 words. All shortlistees are over 18 and have either been born in Wales, lived in Wales for over two years, or are currently based in Wales. The contest is named in honour of Rhys Davies, the prolific and accomplished Welsh writer born in Blaenclydach in the Rhondda in 1901. Davies wrote more than 100 stories throughout his career (in addition to 20 novels, three novellas, two topographical books about Wales, two plays, and an autobiography). 

See the shortlist for the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2021 below:

  • A Cloud of Starlings – Philippa Holloway
  • Bird – Jupiter Jones
  • Coat of Arms – Craig Hawes
  • Half Moon, New Year – Joshua Jones
  • Juice – Rosie Manning
  • James, In During – Elizabeth Pratt
  • Dogs in a Storm – Brennig Davies
  • Cure Time – Giancarlo Gemin
  • The Truth is a Dangerous Landscape – Susmita Bhattacharya
  • Take a Bite – Naomi Paulus
  • Y Castell – Chloe Heuch
  • Conditions for an Avalanche – Kate Lockwood Jefford

The winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story competition 2021 will be announced on 30th September this year. The winner, selected from the above shortlist, will win a prize of £1,000 and have their story featured in The Rhys Davies Short Story Award Anthology 2021 due to be published in October by Parthian Books.

Guest judge Julia Bell – a writer and Reader in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London – spoke on selecting the shortlist: “It was a tough call to pick twelve stories from such a strong selection, but these pieces are all fantastic examples of the short story form, with subjects which take in lockdown, sexuality, grief, dysfunctional families and even a trip to the pub – all written in a mixture of registers, but contained by the tiny machine of the short story at which Rhys Davies was such an expert. I look forward to watching these pieces reach a wider readership and revealing the overall winner in due course.”

You can read the bios for each of the shortlisted authors – including the inaugural BBC Young Writers Award, and a previous Colm Tóibín International Prize winner – below:

Susmita Bhattacharya’s debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian, 2015) was longlisted for the Word2Screen Prize at the Mumbai Film Festival, 2018. Her short story collection, Table Manners (Dahlia Publishing, 2018) won the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection (2019) and has been featured on BBC Radio 4. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and is a lecturer at Winchester University. She also facilitates the ArtfulScribe Mayflower Young Writers programme in Southampton. Susmita lives in Winchester. 

Brennig Davies is a writer from the Vale of Glamorgan. He recently completed his BA in English at Mansfield College, Oxford, and in the past his work has won the inaugural BBC Young Writers Award in 2015 and the Crown at the Urdd National Eisteddfod 2019. He has also been published in the Oxford Review of Books, the Mays Anthology XXIX, and Kate Clanchy’s anthology Friend: poems by young people (Picador, 2021).

Giancarlo Gemin was born in Cardiff in 1962 of Italian parentage. He has written two children’s books, Cowgirl, which won the Tir na n-Og award in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Prize, and Sweet Pizza, which was longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016 and won the Tir na n-Og award in 2017. He is working on his first adult novel about a library in Wales during the austerity years.

Craig Hawes is a journalist-turned-copywriter from Briton Ferry who worked in London and Dubai for many years before returning to South Wales. His short story collection, The Witch Doctor of Umm Suqeim, was published in 2013 by Parthian Books and his plays and stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize in 2010. 

Chloë Heuch was born in Taunton and lives near Pwllheli on the north Wales coast with her family. She has a Creative Writing MA from Lancaster University and is a member of SCBWI and SoA. She currently divides her time between her children, her writing and teaching teenagers. She has had poems and short stories published in the past, the latter through Honno press. Her debut young adult novel, Too Dark to See, was published in 2020 through Firefly Press. 

Philippa Holloway is a writer and academic currently based in Lancashire but with her heart still at home in Wales. Her short fiction is published on four continents and her debut novel, The Half-life of Snails, is due out with Parthian Books in spring 2022. She is co-editor of the collection 100 Words of Solitude: Global Voices in Lockdown 2020 (Rare Swan Press). 

Joshua Jones is a queer, autistic writer and poet from Llanelli. He has an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, where he worked on his debut collection of short stories and is currently studying to become a teacher at Cardiff Met. He also likes to paint and make collages, and releases poetry with music under the name Human Head. He also writes about music for Nawr Magazine. 

Jupiter Jones grew up on the north-west coasts of Cumberland and Lancashire. The first was wild and secretive, the second trashy and jaded; she loved them both and they haunt her writing.  Following a brief spell in London to complete a PhD in Spectatorial Embarrassment at Goldsmiths, she now lives in Wales and writes short and flash fictions. She is the winner of the Colm Tóibín International Prize, and her work has been published by Ad Hoc, Aesthetica, Brittle Star, Fish, Reflex Press, Scottish Arts Trust, and rejected by many, many others. 

Kate Lockwood Jefford was born and grew up in Cardiff. She trained as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and worked in the NHS – alongside a stint writing and performing stand-up comedy – before completing an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck. Her short fiction appears in many publications including Mechanics’ Institute Review (MIR) online, Bristol Prize Anthology 2017, Brick Lane Bookshop 2020 Prize Anthology and Fish Publishing Prize Anthology 2021. Her short story, Picasso’s Face, won the 2020 VS Pritchett Prize. Currently living in London and Folkestone, she still spends a lot of time in south Wales, either in person or in her mind. She is working on her first collection of stories. 

Rosie Manning grew up in Pembrokeshire and spent her childhood obsessed with books and seeing the rest of the world. She left at eighteen and spent ten years travelling, studying, working, and travelling some more until the west coast pulled her home. A graduate in English Literature & Philosophy from the University of Sussex, she recently completed an MA in Creative Writing, with Distinction, from the Open University. Rosie now works in her local library while writing her first novel and a short-story collection. Juice is her first publication. 

Naomi Paulus was born, and had most of her formative experiences, in Swansea. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, after which she spent a year at the Cambridge Judge Business School learning some practical skills. At thirty she decided to start writing down thoughts as well as just thinking them. She has been longlisted for the Primadonna Prize twice and won their 2020 flash fiction competition. She runs a digital agency in London in her spare time. 

Elizabeth Pratt is a transplanted American who took root in the UK way back in the carefree 90s. She lives happily in west Wales with her fella, a few cats, and an untamed vegetable garden. She’s enamoured with writing short stories and flash fiction of all genres but has also been hard at work on her first novel. She won the HE Bates Short Story Competition in 2018 and the Frome Festival Short Story Competition in 2020. She also writes as Elizabeth Ardith Aylward.


The winner will be announced on 30th September 2021. More information on the Rhys Davies Short Story competition is available on the Swansea University website.