Irene Adler Prize Goes to Kiley Bense: Columbia University Student Wins $1,000 Scholarship for Women Writers

Kiley Bense has won the inaugural 2017 Irene Adler Prize for her essay, “A History of One’s Own.” Bense, who will receive $1,000 toward her education, is starting her M.F.A. in creative nonfiction at Columbia University School of the Arts in New York.

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.

“With close to 150 entries from talented women of different backgrounds, choosing a winner was exciting, humbling, and challenging,” said prize founder Lucas Aykroyd. “Combining journalistic precision with poetic imagery, Kiley vividly explores the impact of her Irish family roots, and expresses her desire to emulate leading female historians like Barbara Tuchman and Jill Lepore.”

Honorable mentions went to Elizabeth Trinh (“The Sine Function for Complex Arguments”), who is completing her dual B.A. and B.S. degrees in international relations at Stanford University, and Bailey Boyd (“My Dream Is Not My Own”), who is starting her Ph.D in English with an emphasis in creative nonfiction at the University of Missouri.

Aykroyd is an award-winning Vancouver writer and public speaker whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and National Geographic Traveler. He has covered women’s hockey at four Olympics and has interviewed ABBA, Jennifer Garner, and Katarina Witt. Aykroyd holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Victoria, which gave him the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Aykroyd explained why he created the Irene Adler Prize at a challenging time for female writers: “My mother is a journalist and my sister works in publishing. The editors who gave me my big breaks with the New York Times, the Washington Post and National Geographic Traveler are all female. Nearly every story of mine that’s won an award was assigned by a woman. Teachers, librarians, publicists, literary agents, fellow writers...I could go on. Women have had a huge impact on my career.”

The Irene Adler Prize is named after the heroine of the 1891 Sherlock Holmes detective story “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

For more on the Irene Adler Prize and the winning essay, see:

The 2018 Irene Adler Prize submission guidelines will be released in January.


Lucas Aykroyd
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Categories: Writing, Women's Issues, Colleges and Universities, Awards, Educational News, Education

Tags: female journalists, female writers, Irene Adler Prize, scholarships for women, women writers

About Lucas Aykroyd

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Lucas Aykroyd is an award-winning writer, national newspaper columnist, and public speaker based in Vancouver.