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. 

For advice on entering writing competitions, you might like Cathy Bryant’s How to Win Writing Competitions. 


25th January 2019
Amnesty International Media Awards
For journalism highlighting human rights abuses.

28th January 2019
Guild of Food Writers Awards
Various food categories.

31st January 2019
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
4,000 words max. Cash prizes.

Association of British Science Writers Awards
Open 1st January.


1st February 2019
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
£1,500 plus 2 x £500, plus extra prizes for those three cash winners.

St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Open to young students at university.

4th February 2019
New Welsh Writing Awards
Welsh-themed or -set non-fiction (and other categories).

7th February 2019
Northern Writers Awards
For works in progress by North of England writers.

10th February 2019
Coram Voices 2019
Open to young people under 25 who are looked after children or care leavers. Fiction categories as well as non-fiction ‘newspaper article’.

17th February 2019
MTP Short Story Competition
Includes non-fiction / memoir / essay. £300/£200/£100. £6 entry fee.


1st March 2019
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize.
For unpublished writers. For a proposal of a book-length essay. £3,000.

18th March 2019
The Toni Morrison Essay Prize
Open to students, recent graduates or governance professionals. £1,000 / £500. Essay question revealed 7th January, when competition opens.

Wicked Young Writers Awards
A non-fiction category for 15-25 year olds.

31st March 2019
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s World Christianities Essay Prize
£500. For an essay ‘relating to the history of Christianity outside Europe and North America since the year 700’.


1st June 2019
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Open to young people. Two age categories; various topics. Theme: A Connected Commonwealth.


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

March 2019
City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Wainwright Prize. For writing on nature and the outdoors.
Thresholds International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition.
Wavell Writes: Essay Writing Competition (opens January)
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Essay Prize.
Methodist Women ‘At the Heart’ Writing Competition.

April 2019
Hugh Miller Writing Competition – Children’s and adult categories. For any form of writing inspired by fossils in Scotland.
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition. Various categories, including memoir, comedy, travel (and fictional forms).

May 2019
John Murray Prize with the Spectator
Cancer World Journalism Award
Tacchi Morris: The Page Is Printed
Transitions Abroad Writers’ Contest

National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition
Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals’ Creative Writing Prize
Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize

June 2019
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
Impress Prize
MTP Agency Short Story Competition

July 2019
Wasafiri Life Writing Prize.
Robert Fear’s Travel Stories Competition
Park Publications Article Competition
I Must Be Off! – Travel Writing Competition
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Guild of Health Writers’ Health Writing Awards
Forward/emagazine Student Critics Competition

August 2019
World Congress of Faiths Essay Competition
The Tony Lothian Prize
Association of Christian Writers Journalism Competition
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
The London Magazine Essay Competition
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize
Jancis Robinson Wine Writing Competition

September 2019
The Planet Essay Competition
The Hubert Butler Prize
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
Youth Essay Competition
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
Annals of Science Student Essay Prize
Galley Beggar Prize

October 2019
The Royal Institute of Philosophy essay prize.
Print Networks-Peter Isaac Essay Prize
READ Foundation 2018 Writing Competition
Senior Travel Expert’s Heritage Writing Competition
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize.

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

April 2020
The Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition

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