Tabitha Rubens studies Chinese at Gonville and CaiusTabitha Rubens

A Cambridge student, Tabitha Rubens, has won the BBC Young Writers’ Award for her story Super-Powder - an experimental piece on how human insecurity can be exploited. The 19-year-old, currently studying Chinese at Gonville and Caius College, has been described as “one of the country’s brightest writing talents”

She is one of five finalists, each of whom submitted a short story of under 1000 words. This is the second time Rubens made the shortlist, having already featured in 2019. 

She wrote the story during the winter lockdown, when young people were struggling with their mental health and self-esteem. It emphasises the baselessness of most insecurities, and criticises businesses that profit from exploiting them. 


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The author said she “wanted to play around with the structure of the story to underpin the theme. The words move around on the page so that the reader has to shift their gaze to follow them. I wanted to try not only to make the story more engaging to read, but also to mirror the way your attention is manipulated on social media platforms, including by targeted adverts.”

Last year Rubens won the HG Wells Short Story Competition - she aspires to become an author and illustrator. 

Last month, Rubens told Varsity that “this award in particular is unique as it amplifies the voices of young people, whose opinions often go unheard, illustrating the importance and power of stories.”