A new competition in memory of Doric writer has launched

A short story competition which celebrates the work of one of the north-east’s finest exponents of written Doric has been launched.

By John A. MacInnes
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 11:41 am
Updated Thursday, 17th February 2022, 11:41 am
David Toulmin
David Toulmin

The 2022 Toulmin Prize University is run by the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute and £500 is up for grabs for the winning entry.

The Toulmin prize has inspired a wide-range of creative writing in a mixture of Doric and English since its inception in 2008. It is sponsored by grandsons of Toulmin (John Reid), Steven and Martin Reid.

John Reid (1913-1998) was 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.

Dr Tom McKean, Director of the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen, said: “We’re proud to be able to honour David Toulmin and his work in this way. His writing is powerful, evocative and witty, and he is one of the finest exponents of writing in the north-east.

“We have received a fantastic standard of entries in previous years and the winners have now been collated into an anthology celebrating Doric writing.

“I am looking forward to seeing the selection for 2022 and would urge people with a tale to tell to pick up their pen and stretch their imagination.”

A short story of up to 4,000 words in length should be submitted by June 6, 2022 using the entry form

The winner will receive a £500 prize, and the story will be read by well-known North-East writer, Sheena Blackhall, at a University of Aberdeen event later in the year.

The anthology of prizewinning stories from 2008-2020 plus selected others is entitled Dinna Mess wi the Popo, after the winning 2019 story about a grandmother affectionately named PoPo who sees off a brawl in the family’s Buckie-based Chinese takeaway.

It is supported by The Doric Board and is available directly from University of Aberdeen online store, https://www.store.abdn.ac.uk (ISBN 978-1-85752-077-4, RRP: £9.99)