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Student New Angle Prize longlist entry by Lily Sparrow - The Red Barn


blogmainimagetemplate red barn

Listen all, and listen well,

To this story I will tell—

The tale is mine, of love and foul play,

For it is the story of my dying day.


In Polstead, I was born and raised,

Pretty and fair and well-behaved.

‘Twas March 1826, when my fate was sealed:

When I saw William Corder, at work in the field.

A fine man of good health, of fortune and profit,

With a green handkerchief tucked in his pocket.


We lived in Sudbury for a time;

Love without marriage — our only crime.

A year did pass; life with my Will

Filled me with gladness each day, until

I became with-child—at first, what joy—

But the Devil soon came and stole my boy.


Will Corder, he said the village did whisper,

So we should be wed, as the law would prefer.

He told me, “Maria, we must run away,

Together, on the eighteenth day of May.

Let us meet in the Red Barn, o’er hill and down,

Then we will go to Ipswich town.”


Draped all in men’s clothes, so as not to be seen

(Around my neck I tied the handkerchief of green),

And prepared to elope, I walked the half mile

To Barnfield Hill— through meadow and over stile.


I changed into my dress, once hidden from sight,

And thought of the vows we soon would recite.

Will arrived late, in the last of the light

(Neither would leave to Ipswich that night).


“O Will,” I cried, “I fear for both of us—

There is so much left yet to be discussed.”

Will looked to me, and, sanity surpassed,

Decided that night was to be my last.


He withdrew his pistol, and fired a shot—

My blood pooled fast, there, on the spot.

I was murdered, behind the Red Barn door—

Then, I was buried, beneath the Red Barn floor.


Will kept close the barn key; when the harvest came in

Upon me he lay the crop, masking his sin.

Hearsay spread fast, and so William Corder fled

To east Norfolk— writing letters to ensure all were misled.


I appeared unto my mother, thrice over in dreams,

To reveal that things were not all as they seemed.

Father went to the barn, with rake and with spade,

Then upturned the ground where my body was laid.

My sister recognised me by a missing tooth,

And the green handkerchief hinted the truth.


Bury St Edmunds was where my murderer was tried:

“Guilty?” They asked. “I am,” he replied,

“My sentence is just; I deserve my fate.”

He was hanged at the gallows in 1828.


This tale was mine, of love and foul play,

For it was the story of my dying day.

- Lily Sparrow

Image by David Mark from Pixabay 


Student New Angle Prize

The Student New Angle Prize is a competition partnered with the New Angle Prize for Literature, a national book award for published authors. SNAP is an annual event and offers all students of the University of Suffolk the chance to enter by submitting 500 words of original writing as prose or poetry. Like the New Angle Prize, all entries must either be set in or clearly influenced by our East Anglian region. 

The SNAP competition gives offers a chance to hear new voices in the region and encourages students to add to the literary representations of the region which continue to make East Anglia such an important place for art and literature and poetry. Every year a different judge is invited to join the panel. For this year the judge is honorary graduate, novelist and actress Esther Freud.  

Twelve writers from courses across the University have been longlisted for the SNAP Writing Awards 2021. The shortlist will be announced on 10th March. The winner and runner up will be announced 19th March.

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