Congratulations to Graham Mort who won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2011 for the collection Touch (Seren). Mort was unveiled as winner at a special awards ceremony at the Blackwells Bookshop in Charing Cross Road. Touch is set from the heat of Africa to the warmth of France or the snow bound dales of northern England, the twenty-one stories displayed a deep sensitivity to both the natural world and to human relationships. Among the collection is the 2007 Bridport prize winning story ‘The Prince’.
Although Graham was unable to receive the first prize of £5,000 in person due to commitments to a project working with writers in Uganda he sent a message of thanks saying: “I’m sending this message from Kampala, and the title story, Touch begins here in Uganda and that seemed somehow fitting, my relief at winning was tinged with regret for the other finalists – all of them terrific writers, who also deserved to win. I’m glad that some of them will be picking up other prizes and I’m honoured to be listed among them… I’m sorry not to be at the ceremony, though not sorry to be here in Kampala working with Femrite, a women writers association who represent an emerging generation of Ugandan writers who don’t have this kind of opportunity to publish or win prizes. Their work is pitched at social conditions that they believe can be changed by the insights and understanding that literature creates. Thank you and cheers – have a great evening.”
Graham was born in Lancashire and studied English at Liverpool University. He worked as a mill labourer, dairy operative and psychiatric nurse before training as a teacher. He taught in schools, colleges, prisons, special education and psychiatric units before becoming a freelance writer. He also currently works as Director of Postgraduate Studies for the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. A specialist in distance learning, he also leads the Lancaster University/British Council African writers mentoring scheme, ‘Crossing Borders’.
Ailsa Cox, Co-ordinator of the Prize and Reader in Creative Writing and English at Edge Hill University, said: “The quality of the shortlist was phenomenal this year, with a range of highly acclaimed writers, from both ‘mainstream’ and independent presses such as Graham Mort’s publisher, Seren. Graham’s well-deserved success is a reminder of the high standard of small press publishing in the UK.”