Very short story: Grace

I’m delighted that my very short story, Grace, won the Segora International Vignette Competition! It’s also the first money I’ve ever won, so that’s nice. 🙂

The theme for the competition was “water”, which fitted perfectly with one of my minor obsessions, Grace Darling. Her name may be unfamiliar to anyone who isn’t from the north-east of England, so here’s a little background: She grew up at Longstone Lighthouse in the Farne Islands off Northumberland, and early one morning in 1838, she and her father, in conditions too rough for the mainland lifeboat to set out, rowed out and rescued nine survivors from the shipwrecked SS Forfarshire.

Grace became a celebrity. People flocked to visit her in the village of Seahouses, poets (including Wordsworth) wrote about her, and artists queued up to paint her and depict her in memorabilia of all kinds. She received medals for gallantry and a cheque from Queen Victoria herself.

But fame doesn’t seem to have sat well with Grace. She refused most invitations and appears to have been immune to the various suitors who popped up after the rescue. One thing she wasn’t immune to, though, was TB, and she died in 1842 aged just 26.

I’ve been fascinated for a while by this apparent contradiction in Grace’s story: her stubborn refusal to open up to the world versus Victorian society’s insistence on owning her. So I’m not unaware of the irony of my writing a story about her, but I guess writers are nothing if not appropriators. And I’m very grateful to Gordon and Jocelyn at Segora for their encouragement, not to mention giving me my first writing prize.

You can read the story here if you’re so inclined: click on my name and then on “Download Grace”. It’s only 300 words long, so will take you about a minute.