On Friday night I was lucky enough (thanks to your votes!) to attend the awards ceremony for the UK Blog Awards 2014 at Grange St. Paul’s here in London. The awards recognise the best of British blogging talent and celebrate the diversity of subjects people like to read and write about online – from weddings to automobiles, health and fitness to PR, and, the category my blog was nominated for, Arts and Culture.
Blogging can feel like a private and confessional activity, even if you don’t write about your own life. I post from bed, dream up blog topics in the bath, and have been known to steal WiFi from unsuspecting neighbours while staying with my grandmother just to respond to your comments. So attending an event as the Secret Victorianist for the first time was novel and a little nerve-wracking. Meeting each finalist at the awards gave an instant insight into someone else’s private world. I met people who dedicate hours of their time to writing about food or beauty products outside their nine to five, students using blogging to help them secure jobs after graduating, those who run organisational blogs for whom this was a work event and, occasionally, men and women for whom their blogs are a full time occupation, with more clicks equalling more food on the table, or an extra pint at the pub.
While this was a competition then, there was definitely an atmosphere of camaraderie, as no two blogs are ever on the same topic. Arts and Culture alone included everything from crocheting to folk music to mediaeval manuscripts. Our category judges were Richard Moss, Editor of the Culture 24 website, and Claire Barlow, Regional Manager for Arts & Business North West, and the task of picking out winners mustn’t have been easy. Carli Palmer, a judge for the Retail and Fashion category, who works as a Social Media and Content Marketing Manager for House of Fraser, told me the judging process took her a solid weekend of reading - not just the blogs themselves, but bloggers’ various social channels. For each category, there were 10 shortlisted finalists, and, on the night, the judges awarded one or two Highly Commended awards, before announcing the category winner.
I was surprised and delighted to be Highly Commended for best individual Arts and Culture blog, along with Urban Kultur. After only 10 months of blogging, it’s wonderful to know that people enjoy what you’re writing and have supported your efforts by voting. The category was won by Skyliner – a wonderful blog on the cultural heritage of Manchester which I keep up to date with by following @custardlove on Twitter. The full list of shortlisted blogs in our category can be seen here and are well worth checking out! The awards night was a great experience and made me even keener to keep sharing what I love about literature with you on my site and follow up with the people I meet through the blog in the real world too.
In my next posts I’ll be back to my normal blogging topics, reviewing Esther Waters which I wrote about in my recent post on ‘invisible’ nineteenth-century pregnancies, and picking up with ‘Q’ in my Victorian Alphabet. If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to read about on the blog, or know of any exhibitions, events and performances coming up which are likely to interest me and other budding Victorianists, then, as ever, let me know – by commenting below, tweeting @SVictorianist or getting in touch via Facebook or Google+.