Writing competitions

This is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing competitions from UK, Ireland and Europe — although some are open to writers internationally. 

For non-fiction writing competitions from Canada and America, and mostly aimed at North American writers, click here.

For competitions in Australia and New Zealand, click here

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 slip through. Please check carefully. 

 

JANUARY 2020 DEADLINES

26th January
Nesta Decentralised Future Prize
Essay pitches exploring how decentralised digital organisations will change the way we think about work and the structure of organisations. 10 shortlisted pitches will be invited to submit full essays. Very generous prizes totalling at least £6,000. 

30th January
The Guild of Food Writers Awards
Various food writing categories, for published work (2019). 

31st January
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Euro 1,000 / 300 (plus retreat) / 200. Euro 17 entry fee (Euro 11 for additional entries).

Association of British Science Writers Awards
For science writing. 

The Keats-Shelley Prize 2020
On some aspect of the works or lives of the Romantics and their circles. Max 3,000 words.

 

FEBRUARY 2020 DEADLINES

1st February 
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Theme: Freedom Revisited: Which aspects of freedom need to be defended, or recalibrated, to meet the challenges of our time? 2,100 words max.

3rd February
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
Free entry. Open to unagented writers who have yet to publish a full-length work. 5,000 words max. 

6th February
Northern Writers Awards
Various categories, including for narrative non-fiction. 3,000–6,000 words. £1,000–5,000. 

7th February
The Hugo Young Award
For political opinion writing.

9th February
Women in Journalism’s Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation 2020
£4,000 in prizes. Women only. Submit three pieces of published work plus 800-word pitch for an ongoing journalistic project. 

12th February
Coram Voice — Voices Writing Competition
Open to children in care or care leavers under 25. Theme: Dreams. 

15th February
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
On an aspect of the history of the British Army or Land Forces of the Empire or Commonwealth. 2,500–3,500 words. Open to sixth-form students and undergraduates internationally, with a prize for each of £300, plus £100 runner-up. 

29th February
MTP Winter Short Story Competition
Opens 1st December. Open worldwide; most genres (including non-fiction, memoir). £400 / £300 / £200. 

 

MARCH 2020 DEADLINES

1st March
Nan Shepherd Prize for Younger Writers
Open to young writers in Aberdeenshire. £250 / 2 x £100. Theme: Life and Landscape.

2nd March
Wicked Young Writers Awards
750 words. Writers 5–25. Modest prizes. 

15th March
Hugh Miller Writing Competition 
Children’s (1,000 words max.) and adult (2,000) categories. For any form of writing inspired by Scotland’s geoheritage or landscape. 

Fitzcarraldo Editions Mahler & Lewitt Studios Essay Prize
Open to unpublished writers, offering “£3,000 to the best proposal for a book-length essay (minimum 25,000 words) by a writer resident in the UK & Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal … proposals for essays that explore and expand the possibilities of the essay form, with no restrictions on theme or subject matter”.

17th March
New Welsh Writing Awards
Prose with a Welsh theme or setting (fiction as well as non-fiction). £1,000.

30th March
National Association of Writers’ Groups Annual Members Competition
Various categories, including fiction, and non-fiction (travel, memoir). 

31st March
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History World Christianities Essay Prize
£500. On “any subject relating to the history of Christianity outside Europe and North America since the year 700”. 8,000 words max.

 

APRIL 2020 DEADLINES

1st April
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
For the best piece of writing on the theme ‘forgiveness and retribution’. 2,500 words. £10,000 / £3,000 / £2,000. Worldwide entrants accepted.

27th April
Habinteg 2020 Prize
For an essay on the inclusivity of those with disabilities in design of home and neighbourhoods. 2,000 words maximum. £2,500 / £500. 

 

MAY 2020 DEADLINES

3rd May 
Mavis Batey Essay Prize
5,000–6,000 words on an aspect of garden history. £250. 

 

JUNE 2020 DEADLINES

30th June
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Open to young writers. Theme: “Climate action and the Commonwealth”. Ages under 14, and 14–18.

 

JULY 2020 DEADLINES

31st July
Vicarious Festival 2020 Travel Writing Competition
Open “to anyone writing a book about their experience of an unfamiliar culture (or cultures) during a single journey”. £5 entry. £500 winner prize.

 

UNCONFIRMED AND FURTHER AHEAD …

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.

February 2020
Johnson & Johnson Awards
The Wincott Awards
Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation

March 2020
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition
Mencap Journalism Awards
English & Media Centre’s emagazine Close Reading Competition
Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 
Tacchi-Morris The Page Is Printed
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize

April 2020
The Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition
Robert Fear’s Travel Stories Competition
Wavell Writes Essay Writing Competition
The Write It Competition
War for the Wounded (Reformatted Prize) for 2020

May 2020
New Nature Writing Competition
Writers College Writing Competition

June 2020
Creative Future Writers’ Award
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
Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize

July 2020
Mind Media Awards
Park Publications Article Competition
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
The Economist Essay Contest for Young People

August 2020
Nature’s Essay Competition
The Charroux Literary Competition
The Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
SME Week Youth Essay Competition
World Congress of Faiths Essay Award
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition

September 2020
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
Planet Essay Competition
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
The Nan Shepherd Prize
The RSL St Aubyn Awards
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
FT Bracken Bower Prize

October 2020
Bradt Travel Guides ‘New Travel Writer of the Year’ Competition
Fosseway Writers Travel Writing Competition
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
The Orwell Prize for Political Writing
Deborah Rogers Foundation 2020 Writers Award

November 2020
The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize
RSTMH Student Essay Competition
New Media Writing Prize
Somerset Maugham Awards
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
Wisden Almanack Writing Competition

December 2020
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
Justis International Law & Technology Writing Competition
Nobrow Press Short Story Competition
RSL Ondaatje Prize
New Media Writing Prize Unicorn Student Training Award
And Other Stories’ Northern Book Prize 
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition 
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize
The Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition
The Tom Morrison Essay Prize 

January 2021
I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition 
Amnesty Media Awards 

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