Shakespeare Week 2021 Competition Winners

Find out the winners of the Shakespeare Week 2021 competition – ‘To thine own self be true’.

For Shakespeare Week 2021 we invited children to make a creative response to one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes from the play Hamlet: ‘This above all, to thine own self be true…’.

15 Jun 2021

We have been overwhelmed with the quality, depth, originality and honesty of the responses from children across the entire nation. We received over 600 entries across the age range and it has been a wonderful few weeks as we have read, considered and viewed the diverse range of responses that include videos, songs, musical compositions, models, cartoons, artwork, poems and many other creative responses. What a talented bunch of young people our Shakespeare Week children are!

After several rounds of shortlisting, the judges of the competition (including our fabulous Shakespeare Week Patron, author and illustrator Marcia Williams) met to decide on the winning entries and we are delighted to announce the winners here.

It wasn’t easy to select our winners, runners-up and highly commended children and in order to do so the judges looked carefully to see evidence that the children had reflected on what it means to be true to yourself and how they interpreted Shakespeare’s words, as well as admiring the quality of their creative response. We feel privileged to have been given an insight into the thoughts and feelings of young children at this particularly difficult time. Many of the children that sent us their work mentioned the pandemic and how this had affected them and many also talked very openly about times they had faced difficulties and the emotions they felt. As one teacher said to us: “The competition was very revealing and gave the children a chance to be proud about who they all are as individuals.”

We would like to thank all the schools, children and families that took the time to enter the competition - we think that all the entries were of a very high standard. A huge congratulations to everyone that took part. With thanks also to Marcia Williams, Katharine Orton, Nicola Davies, Ian McMillan, Ben Cajee and Nikki Lilly for giving your time and your wonderful creative responses in order to inspire children to talk and take part. A special extra thank you to Marcia Williams for being our Head Judge.

Please do enjoy looking at a selection of the children’s entries in our online exhibition, including the winners and runners up of the competition. We hope that it will continue to be a way for children to have important and helpful conversations about the difficulties and dilemmas that they face.

Click here to see the winners and runners up in an online exhibition

The winners

Winner, Individual entry (4-7 years)

Lucy, age 7, sent us a colourful collage self-portrait.

Lucy told us: “Being true to yourself can be really difficult because you might be afraid that you could hurt someone’s feelings or that you could lose something really important to you (like friendship for example), but if you try really hard to be honest about your feelings and share them then it can make your relationships stronger.”

Winner, Individual entry (8-11 years)

Petra, age 10, baked a cake that reflected her true self.

Petra told us: “I chose to bake a cake for my response to the quote because I saw an author’s poem called ‘A Recipe For Me’ and that inspired me to make a cake that reflected my own true self. It is a ginger cake with lemon meringue on top as these are my favourite flavours. The zesty lemon represents my zesty nature and the sweet ginger represents that I can be sweet even though you might not think it. The pieces of stem ginger represent how unpredictable (in a good way) I can be.”

Winner, Key Stage One school entry

Finley, age 6, wrote a poem about his emotions.

Finley said this about his poem: “Well I just thought about how sometimes I feel angry and how it's better to not feel angry but also that it's okay to feel that way too. When someone is angry or sad we can help them by telling them that they will feel better soon.”

Joint Winner, Key Stage Two school entry

Nina, age 11, wrote a ‘reverse poem’.

Nina explained why she chose this medium: “I really loved the idea of reverse poems that could be read both ways. I like the uplifting feeling when you read it backwards because it is like bursting out of a nightmare and into a dream.”

Joint Winners, Key Stage Two school entry

Daisy, age 9 and Will, age 10 wrote and performed a song together.

They told us: “Doing it as a song was fun as we had never played together before. It showed more emotion. It was something that no-one else was doing and meant that we could use our skills.”

To see the winners’ responses as well as the runners up and a selection of the highly commended entries, visit our online exhibition.