When Sarah Waters agreed to take on judging duties for the Jane Austen Short Story competition, she feared being deluged by pale imitations of Pride and Prejudice . Fortunately that has proved not to be the case and an anthology of the winning entries will be published on 15 October by the Welsh independent Press, Honno.
The book, Dancing with Mr Darcy, will include an introduction by Waters who is pictured (right) with the winning author, Victoria Owens (centre), who was presented with a cheque for £1,000, and Lyndsay Ashford of Chawton House. Ashford launched the competition to celebrate the bicentenary of Austen's arrival in Chawton, where she spent many productive years of her literary life.
Speaking about the winning entry, 'Jane Austen over the Styx', Waters described it as 'a really original take on the Austen theme: a story about the author going to Hades to be judged by some of the more unpleasant characters she created in her novels. I thought this was very accomplished and stylish.'
Entrants were asked for stories inspired by Austen's novels, her life, or Chawton House, and the published collection will feature the winning story, together with those of the two runners-up and the seventeen other finalists.