Write a column for The Times

James Dean

Columnists come in all shapes and sizes. Political heavyweights, lifestyle gurus, feminists, chauvinists, geeks, foodies, TV obsessives…sometimes all rolled into one (and also known as “polemicists”). But what makes them stand out from all the other talking heads? Why should they have a thousand or so printed words to play with every week?

It’s not usually their argument, but the way they put it. When they tell it, they tell it well. They grab your attention from the outset. An anecdote? A joke? A clever play on words? Maybe they wrap a friendly arm around you with a short scene-setter?

We’re giving final-year undergraduate students the opportunity to rub shoulders with The Times’s award-winning writers and have their own column published in the newspaper. The London Library Student Prize, in association with The Times and Milkround, is now open for your essays on Gap years: a new form of colonialism?

Abstract academic articles, poetry or short stories won’t win; we’re after a clever, beautifully written piece that will satisfy even the most discerning Times reader. The winner will also receive £5,000, one year’s membership of The London Library and a one-year subscription to The Times.

A few words from last year’s winner, Ben Mason:

My internship at The Times was fantastic beyond my expectations. I was allowed to get stuck in from the outset on the Arts desk, and on my third day I interviewed Benjamin Zephaniah, the performance poet, for a Times 2 feature.

What I enjoyed the most was seeing the workings of the paper at all levels. And all this while rubbing shoulders with David Aaronovitch and Hugo Rifkind, the writers I really look up to.

Separating the cream from the milk will be Bill Emmott, former Editor of The Economist and chairman of The London Library; award-winning author Patrick Ness; Erica Wagner, Literary Editor of The Times; and Tom Gatti, Saturday Review Editor at The Times.

The prize is open to all final year undergraduates studying at higher education institutions in the UK. Entries must be no longer than 800 words and must be submitted by midnight on Friday, January 11, 2013. Click here for the entry guidelines, here for the terms and conditions, here for Ben’s winning essay and here to submit your entry.

First Prize: £5,000, one year’s membership of The London Library, one year’s subscription to The Times, entry published in The Times & The London Library magazine and the opportunity of a mini-internship at The Times.

Three Runners-Up: £1,000, one year’s membership of The London Library, one year’s subscription to The Times and the opportunity of a mini-internship at The Times.

For more information, go to the London Library website, e-mail competitions@londonlibrary.co.uk or call 020 7766 4704.


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