First Story Writer-in-Residence, Cecilia Knapp has won the 2021 Ruth Rendell Award, which honours the author or writer who has had the most significant influence on literacy in the UK over the past year.
The award was launched in 2016 by the National Literacy Trust and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in honour of the author Ruth Rendell, who tirelessly championed literacy throughout her lifetime and supported the National Literacy Trust since its foundation in 1993.
Cecilia Knapp is a poet, playwright and novelist and the Young People’s Laureate for London 2020/2021. She has been shortlisted for the Rebecca Swift Women’s prize and the Outspoken poetry prize. Her poems have appeared in The White Review, Wasafiri, Popshot, Ambit, Magma and Bath magazines and anthologised, and her debut novel Little Boxes is forthcoming from The Borough Press, alongside her debut poetry collection Peach Pig, which will be published by Corsair in 2022. Cecilia teaches creative writing in a variety of settings. She was resident poet at Great Ormond Street Hospital for two years and is lead tutor for the Roundhouse’s prestigious poetry collective.
She has led multiple First Story Young Writers Programmes for over four years alongside facilitating workshops at our regional Connect Events and creating National Writing Day online tutorials and creative writing resources for use in classrooms.
Here’s what Cecilia had to say about winning the award:
Winning this award was such a shock but a really affirming moment. It’s enough of a prize to get to hang out with brilliant young people and see them grow through the sharing of stories, but this prize was an added honour. I care deeply about making literature accessible to young people and making sure they feel entitled to the world of stories and poetry; a space that they can occupy however and whenever they want. It was a free workshop that sparked my love of literature back when I was younger. I always knew I wanted to pay that forward and help more young people develop a love of reading and writing, as it had such a transformative experience in my life.
Being a First Story Writer-in-Residence for the past four years has been the best way to meet some incredible young people from all over London and help them access creative writing. In a time when creative writing and all its benefits feel as though they are being squeezed out of the curriculum, it feels more important than ever.
Our congratulations again, to Cecilia Knapp. We look forward to seeing where her incredible career takes her next!