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Trinity College launched the Gould Prize for Essays in English Literature in 2013. This is an annual competition for Year 12 or Lower 6th students. The Prize has been established from a bequest made by Dr Dennis Gould in 2004 for the furtherance of education in English Literature. This Essay Prize has the following aims. First, to encourage talented students with an interest in English Literature to explore their reading interests further in response to questions about the subject. Second, to encourage students with an interest in literature to apply for a University course in English. Finally, to recognise the achievements of high-calibre students from whatever background they may come, as well as the achievements of those who teach them.

Candidates are invited each year to submit an essay of between 1,500 and 2,500 words in answer to a question from our list.

Candidates must write their essays entirely on their own: that is, without help from their school or from artificial intelligence. Your essay should represent your most ambitious, original, and imaginative critical work. We are not looking for submissions in creative writing. We also expect a close engagement with the prompt. Essays can be written on all works of literature composed originally in the English language, from anywhere in the world. Also eligible are all works of literature originally written in the British Isles in any other language (e.g.. Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Irish, French, Latin, Greek, etc). Excluded are works from beyond the British Isles that were not originally written in English (e.g. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina).

The list of questions for the 2024 competition can be found here.

The deadline is 12 noon UK time on 1 August 2024; late submissions cannot be accepted. Results will be announced around mid-September.

The competition carries a First Prize of £600, to be split equally between the candidate and his or her school or college, and a Second Prize of £400, which again is to be shared equally between the candidate and his or her school or college.  The school or college’s portion of each prize will be issued in the form of book tokens with which to buy books of or about English literature (under the broad definition set out above).  In addition, further deserving essays of a high quality will receive high commendations or commendations.  Authors of prize-winning and highly commended essays will be invited to visit the College.

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1. I hereby give permission to Trinity College, Cambridge (‘the College’) and those authorised by the College to record me at the Prize Ceremony (if I am invited and attend) by photograph and/or video/film and/or sound recording (‘Recordings’) and I agree that for educational/non-commercial purposes the College may use the Recordings (transcribed or otherwise) and may use the essay I submit (‘Essay’) (with due acknowledgement of my authorship) throughout the world for the full period of copyright, including all renewals, reversions, extensions and revivals of such period, in the following ways: a) storing, publishing or transmitting the Recordings and/or the Essay in College internal archives and databases; and b) exhibiting, publishing or transmitting the Recordings and/or the Essay in print, on DVD or other digital media and on the Internet at College websites and College-affiliated websites; and c) distributing the Recordings and/or the Essay to the press, media organisations and other interested parties for publication, transmission or broadcast.] 2. The information provided in this form is used for the administration of the Gould Essay Prize and is managed and stored in accordance with UK Data Protection regulations 3. This agreement shall be governed in all respects by English law.
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Past Gould Prize-winners


First Prize: Hazel Morpurgo (Colyton Grammar School)
Second Prize: Livia Ursini Parker (North London Collegiate School)


Joint First Prize:
Ruby Deakin (High Storrs School, Sheffield)
Naomika Saran (The Shri Ram School, India)


First Prize: Mr L Beevers (Heckmondwike Grammar School)
Second Prize: Miss E Connor (Kings Norton Girls’ School)


First Prize: Miss M Wu (Wellington College)
Second Prize: Miss Crosbie-Chen (Westminster School)


First Prize: Miss E McNeill (Notting Hill & Ealing High School)
Second Prize: Miss J Cartwright (St Aidan’s and St John Fisher’s Associated Sixth Form)


First Prize: Mr B Jureidini (Esher College)
Second Prize: Miss E Laurence (South Hampstead High School)


First Prize: Miss H Smith (Chelmsford County High School for Girls)
Second Prize: Mr C Graff (University College School, London)


First Prize: Miss M Little (Bexhill College)
Second Prize: Miss M Abdel-Razek (Wimbledon High School)


Joint First Prize:
Miss M Benham (King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham)
Mr E Patel (Merchant Taylor’s School, Northwood)


Joint First Prize:
Miss A Cattley (Saffron Walden County High School)
Miss E Cavell (St Paul’s Girls’ School)


First Prize: Miss E Franklin (King Edward’s Sixth Form College, Stourbridge)
Second Prize: Miss J Simms (Greenhead College, Huddersfield)

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