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



30th September 2018
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize
For the “best proposal for a book about the challenges and opportunities of growth”.

The Garden Media Guild Awards
Various categories for books, journalism, blogs and more.

Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
Various categories, for writing which raises awareness of gender inequality or Violence Against Women, written in Scotland or for Scottish readership.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
For ‘the best essay submitted on a subject connected with any aspect of early Christian history, broadly understood as including the first seven centuries AD/CE’. £500. 8,000 words max.

Annals of Science Student Essay Prize
Open to doctoral students or recent doctoral graduates. For ‘an original, unpublished essay in the history of science, technology or medicine’. US$1,000.



1st October 2018
The Royal Institute of Philosophy essay prize.
On philosophy and international relations.

Print Networks-Peter Isaac Essay Prize
On “any aspect of the History of the Book Trade in the Anglophone world during the incunabula or print eras”.

10th October 2018
READ Foundation 2018 Writing Competition
First-person essay (or poem / short story) on the theme “My education helped me …”. Free entry. Web publication / feedback for winner and two runners-up.

31st October 2018
Senior Travel Expert’s Heritage Writing Competition
£100, plus 10 x £10 Amazon vouchers. 750 words on theme of heritage.

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize.
Open to writers 18-25. ‘Let all man know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly’ Poor Richard, 1743. Entrants should interpret this quote for its significance today. Non-fiction or fiction. 1,000-1,500 words. £750 / £500.



1st November 2018
The Philosophical Quarterly’s Essay Prize
Theme: The philosophy of Derek Parfit

15th November 2018
The Law Society’s Graham Turnbull Human Rights Essay Competition
£500 prize. Open to law students, trainee solicitors, pupil barristers, junior lawyers. “Is technology an opportunity or threat for human rights lawyers?” 2,000 words max.

30th November 2018
The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
For “a previously unpublished review of up to 800 words on new work on the arts”. £3,000 / 2 x £500.

New Media Writing Prize
Various categories, including for Students (for whom later deadline, 14th December, applies).



15th December 2018
The Institute of Information Law’s “Science Fiction & Information Law” Essay Competition
For essays which “reflect on our possible data-driven future, where data has been firmly established as an economic asset and new, data-driven smart technologies can change the way we live, work, love, think and vote”

21st December 2018
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize.
8,000-10,000 words on some aspect of Scottish women’s or gender history.

30th December 2018
Castle Craig’s 30th Anniversary Essay Writing Competition
Open to students of medicine, psychology, nursing, social work. One of three essay questions. £1000 plus 5 x £250.

31st December 2018
Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition
For essays on a military topic within the boundaries of 1400 to 1721. 2,500-3,000 words.



14th January 2019
Bradt Travel Guides’ Travelling with Kids Anthology Competition
For family travel tales between 1,000 and 2,000 words, for inclusion in a forthcoming book.

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



17th February 2019
MTP Short Story Competition
Opens 1st November. Includes non-fiction / memoir / essay. £300/£200/£100. £6 entry fee.



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’.



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.

October 2018
The Portobello Prize. For ‘new voices in narrative non-fiction’
Scottish History Network School Essay Prize. Open to High School students only

November 2018
Words and Women Prose Competition. 2,200 words or under. Includes memoir / life-writing / creative non-fiction (plus fiction).
Bradt Travel Guide’s New Travel Writer of the Year

December 2018
Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival Writing Competition
Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Awards

January 2019
Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize. Biennial essay prize. £20,000 top prize; 5 x £1,000 runners-up.
The Orwell Prize. For political writing.
The Fresher Writing Prize.
The Keats-Shelley Prize.
The Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland
Guild of Food Writers Awards

February 2019
Northern Writers Awards.
New Welsh Writing Awards.
Coram Voice’s Voices Writing Competition
Spread the Word Life Writing Prize.

March 2019
City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
University of Warwick’s The School of Modern Languages and Cultures’ Two Chairs Creative Writing Competition
Words for the Wounded Prize.
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize. For unpublished writers. For a proposal of a book-length essay. £3,000.
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
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Essay Prize.
Methodist Women ‘At the Heart’ Writing Competition.

April 2019
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.
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition. Various categories, including memoir, comedy, travel (and fictional forms).

May 2019
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
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 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
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

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