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Inverness writer Barbara Henderson wins the Historical Association's prize Young Quills Award for second time in a row

By Gregor White

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Barbara Henderson with her two award-winning books.
Barbara Henderson with her two award-winning books.

A WRITER and teacher has scooped a national historical fiction award for the second year in a row.

English and drama teacher Barbara Henderson was announced as the winner of this year’s Young Quills Awards for her novel The Chessmen Thief.

Mrs Henderson was also last year’s winner of the same award for The Siege of Carlaverock.

This week she was still trying to comprehend how she had managed consecutive wins of the prestigious prize.

“I had already planned to fly to London to collect the certificate for last year’s award as we couldn’t hold a ceremony back then, but when I saw the announcement the other night I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“I knew my book had made the shortlist but I really wasn’t expecting to win a second time, back to back. There are so many authors and amazing books which I loved that entered the competition and with so many deserving authors I really couldn’t imagine winning this year.

“I am very chuffed and humbled by the decision.”

The Chessmen Thief follows a young boy named Kylan in his quest to return to the Isle of Harris after being kidnapped and enslaved by the Vikings and was the winner of the award’s category for books aimed at five to nine year olds.

The award is organised by the Historical Association and aims to recognise the best historical fiction for children and young adults.

“This award is even more special because the very first selection is done by children, before any judge gets involved, and this really means a lot,” Mrs Henderson said.

“Some of the reviews from the children are published on the website, and I have to admit that reading them made me cry.

“Although I am a teacher and I work close to children, you don’t always hit the right spot.

“As a writer, I have learned that you have to accept that things don’t always go the way you want and you have to live and accept rejection. But when things do go well it’s important to treasure and enjoy the moment.”

Mrs Henderson is now busy promoting latest book, The Reluctant Rebel, as well as editing a new Victorian-set work.

She has written several works for children including Fir For Luck, Punch, and Black Water, as well as eco-fiction novel Wilderness Wars.

In 2021 she published her first non-fiction book, Scottish by Inclination, which focuses on her and others’ experience as immigrants to Scotland.

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