Creative writing competition launched for schools

Lots of historical records focus on the rich, the influencers or the winners of particular periods. But in a new education resource now available on our website, The National Archives focuses on the voices of the poor in British Victorian society.

Our brand new themed collection, Workhouse Voices, includes letters written by the poor and paupers to New Poor Law officials after 1834. It allows students and teachers to develop their own questions and lines of historical enquiry on the nature of the legislation, the role of the authorities and the impact of the law on those who experienced it first-hand. The collection offers a unique insight into this world with these documents available digitally for the first time.

To highlight this new resource, The National Archives Education team is running its first ever creative writing competition for pupils at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.

Taking your inspiration from some of the letters, write a short story which describes life in a Victorian workhouse or an experience of the Poor Law. In one of the letters from the collection one child writes, ‘If any of our parents bring anything, we are not allowed to have it’, and another letter states, ‘Take me out of this workhouse, I do not like to be in here’.

Once you have written your story, please submit it to us by Monday 30 November when it will be judged by a panel including acclaimed children’s author Sharon Gosling. More details about the competition can be found here.

Tags: creative writing, education, poor laws, victorian workhouse