Skip navigation
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.


Budding writers are being asked to draw inspiration from one of Yorkshire’s most famous landmarks – the cliff-top ruins of Whitby Abbey – in a new national storytelling competition being launched by English Heritage this month.

The competition will give budding authors a chance to see their work in print in a book called “Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration”, which is due to be published later this year.

Whitby Abbey has proved an inspiration site for centuries, from the works of the poet Caedmon – the earliest known English poet, who was based at the Abbey shortly after its foundation by St Hild in the 7th century – to contemporary best-seller of fiction for young people, GP Taylor, who chose an image of Whitby Abbey for the cover of his best-selling book, Shadowmancer (to date, four million copies have been sold world-wide). The site also gained a cult following thanks to Bram Stoker, who was inspired by the haunting ruins to write the most famous horror novel of all time, Dracula.

“When you are an unknown author, getting that first break can be extremely difficult – many of today’s household names will have been very familiar with rejection letters at the start of their careers, even though they now receive advances on new books of many thousands of pounds,” says Graham Taylor, who sold his treasured Harley Davidson to fund the self-publishing of his first book, Shadowmancer, before he was signed up by a major publisher. “This competition will give several authors the chance to have see their works in print, hopefully uncovering some bright new talent for the future.”

To encourage writing by people of all ages, there are four categories for entries:

• Ages 11 and under (maximum story length: 500 words)
• Ages 12 to 16 (maximum story length: 1250 words)
• Ages 17 to 21 (maximum story length: 2500 words)
• Over 21s (maximum story length: 2500 words)

“We’re looking for all different kind of stories, whether they be funny, poignant, historic, fantasy or something completely different,” adds Nicola. “The one common theme that all stories need is that they have to include Whitby Abbey in a substantial form. Bram Stoker used the windswept ruins to set the scene for Dracula’s arrival on British shores – and that imagery has been imprinted on minds for the last 100 years. That’s the kind of iconography we are looking for – a narrative that uses the Abbey to move the story on.”

The competition has already secured support from Graham (GP) Taylor, who will be on the judging panel for the competition. The best-selling author and former Whitby vicar, famously sold his Harley Davidson to self-publish Shadowmancer, which has since gone on to worldwide success, including a multi-million pound film deal from a Hollywood studio. Other judges include the Yorkshire Post’s features editor, Sarah Freeman, and Whitby Abbey’s visitor operations manager, Jamie Marshall.

The competition launched on Tuesday 19 May, and remains open for entries until Friday 4 September 2009. Full details of the competition are available on the English Heritage website ( You can also follow the competition on Twitter at More information is also available from Whitby Abbey itself, which is open daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm. Admission is £5.50 for adults, £4.70 for concessions and £2.80 for children, or £13.80 for a family ticket (two adults and up to three children). For more details, please call 01947 603568.

The Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration campaign is part of the English Heritage Stories of the North initiative to highlight historical places of great literary inspiration


Photographs of Graham Taylor at Whitby Abbey to launch the competition are available in hi-res format.

For further media information or photos, please contact:

Jay Commins
PRO – English Heritage
Tel: 0113 251 5698
Mob: 07810 546567

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Footprint Impression Management Limited in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Entertainment & Arts, Leisure & Hobbies, Home & Garden, Travel, Education & Human Resources, Media & Marketing, for more information visit