Writing competitions

Here is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing competitions currently open to UK and Irish writers — and some to writers worldwide.

Competitions whose terms and conditions request copyright in entries submitted — or make other unreasonable demands — are not included. T&Cs are usually checked, but some copyright-grabbers may occasionally slip through. Please read them carefully. 


31st July 2019
Park Publications Article Competition
My Writing Day. £50 / £25 / £15

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Open to students. Option of three set questions in several categories, including Politics, Law and Theology. £100 category prizes. £500 top prize.

MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted (as well as fictional forms), 3,000 words maximum. New authors only. International writers welcome. £300 / £200 / £100.

The Economist Essay Contest for Young People
Ages 16–25. 1,000 words max. “What fundamental economic and political change, if any, is needed for an effective response to climate change?”



9th August 2019
Nature’s Essay Competition
Open to writers 18–25. Which scientific advance would you like to see in your lifetime, and why it matters to you. 1,000 words. £500.

15th August 2019
The Charroux Literary Competition
Memoir. £150 / £50 / £30. 1,500–3,000 words.

16th August 2019
The Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
Open to writers 18–35. 3,500 words max. £1,500 top prize, plus 2 x £500. ‘Dynamic, lively and authoritative’ essays sought, on any subject.

SME Week Youth Essay Competition
Open to 18–25 year olds on “the speech you would give as the new commissioner for SMEs and entrepreneurship to European entrepreneurs”.

27th August 2019
World Congress of Faiths Essay Award
On the theme: “Is Interfaith Worship a desirable practice?”

31st August 2019
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
For the best proposal for a first biography.

Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
Prose up to 2,000 words (poetry category too) related to mountaineering. £200 / £100 / £50.


1st September 2019
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
1,200 – 3,000 words on your experience of moving, working or living abroad. $500 / $150 / $100 / $50 x ?

Planet Essay Competition
Open to writers under 30. Broad brief. £200.

2nd September 2019
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
A prize intended to ‘encourage the art of essay-writing with a European dimension and to expand the interest in Butler’s work’. Theme: “Where does a citizen of the world belong?”. £1000 / 2 x £500.

10th September 2019
The Nan Shepherd Prize
For nature writing. Opens 24th June. For a narrative non-fiction nature book idea, to include synopsis and sample chapter, by under-represented writers.

17th September 2019
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Various categories in gardening, horticulture, environment …

30th September 2019
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
With a focus on Scotland. Various categories, including News, Opinion, and Blog.



1st October 2019
Royal Institute of Philosophy Essay Prize
Theme: The Significance of Paradoxes. £2,500.

31st October 2019
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
On the Quote: “Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults”. Open to writers 18–25. 1,000–1,500 words.


NB: Most of the following are included on the basis of having run in the previous year, but are provisional or as yet unconfirmed for the upcoming date specified.

September 2019
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
Annals of Science Student Essay Prize

October 2019
Print Networks-Peter Isaac Essay Prize
READ Foundation 2018 Writing Competition
Senior Travel Expert’s Heritage Writing Competition

November 2019
The Philosophical Quarterly’s Essay Prize
The Orwell Prize for Political Writing
Bradt Travel Guides ‘New Travel Writer of the Year’ 2020 Competition
War for the Wounded (Reformatted Prize) for 2020
Wisden Almanack Cricket Article Competition
The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
New Media Writing Prize
Somerset Maugham Awards

December 2019
Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
The Institute of Information Law’s “Science Fiction & Information Law” Essay Competition
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize.
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition
Castle Craig’s 30th Anniversary Essay Writing Competition
Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition
RHS David Berry Prize

January 2020
The Fresher Writing Prize
Bradt Travel Guides’ Travelling with Kids Anthology Competition
Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Essay Prize
The Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize
Amnesty International Media Awards
Cassandra Jardine Award
Guild of Food Writers Awards
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Association of British Science Writers Awards

February 2020
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Hugo Young Award
New Welsh Writing Awards
Northern Writers Awards
Johnson & Johnson Awards 2019
Coram Voices 2019 
The Wincott Awards
MTP Short Story Competition
Hugh Cudlipp Student Award

March 2020
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize.
The Tom Morrison Essay Prize
Wicked Young Writers Awards
Mencap Journalism Awards
English & Media Centre’s emagazine Close Reading Competition
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s World Christianities Essay Prize
Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 
Tacchi-Morris The Page Is Printed
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize
Nan Shepherd Prize for Younger Writers

April 2020
The Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition
Hugh Miller Writing Competition – Children’s and adult categories. For any form of writing inspired by fossils in Scotland.
Robert Fear’s Travel Stories Competition
Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Wavell Writes Essay Writing Competition
The Write It Competition
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition

May 2020
The Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction
New Nature Writing Competition
Writers College Writing Competition

 June 2020
Creative Future Writers’ Award
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Young Norfolk Writing Competition
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
Sunday Times Young Writers Award
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Impress Prize for New Writers
Berlin Writing Prize 2019
Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize

July 2020
Mind Media Awards

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