EVEN the staff at St James’ Middle School were not told Harriet Vaughan-Williams was getting a special prize at the end of term assembly.
The Bury St Edmunds school was trying to keep it a secret from the 13-year-old that she had won a national writing competition that will bring her a Kindle ebook reader and £100 worth of Amazon vouchers while the school library receives a £1,000 boost.
The short story competition, called What the Dickens? to mark the author’s 200th birthday, was organised by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), which looks after authors’ copyright issues and payments.
Harriet’s story, Savannah, follows a young orphan of that name who goes to work in a sweatshop.
The ALCS said: “This impressive story contains all the classic Dickensian traits in a modern day setting. If Dickens were writing today, perhaps Oliver would have been working in a sweatshop.”
Her English teacher, Marian Fisher, said: “It is a pretty impressive story.”
Harriet has never read a Dickens novel but Mrs Fisher said the class had studied extracts.
Harriet, who will go to King Edward VI School in September, said: “One of my nans has a Kindle, it’s really cool.”