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 November 2018
Bradt Travel Guides ‘New Travel Writer of the Year’ 2019 Competition
Short piece; theme ‘Out of the Blue’. Note, however, the T&Cs which specify arguably unreasonable rights on Finalists’ entries.

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For “a previously unpublished review of up to 800 words on new work on the arts”.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).

Somerset Maugham Awards
Published work of non-fiction (or fiction / poetry) by an author under 35. £10,000 prize fund, for travelling.



12th December 2018
Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
For a distinguished full-length work (fiction, as well as non-fiction) “evoking the spirit of a place”.

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.

Wild Words Winter Writing Competition
Write (or perform) a piece on one of four given quotes (can be fiction or non-fiction). Prize is online publication and mentoring session.

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.

RHS David Berry Prize
For an essay on Scottish history, based on original research.



2nd January 2019
The Fresher Writing Prize
Creative non-fiction up to 3,000 words (and other forms) on the theme of peace. £6 entry fee.

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.

Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Essay Prize
On “any aspects of the lives of the Romantics and their circles”. 3,000 words max. Free entry.

The Australian Book Review’s Calibre Essay Prize
For essays 2,000-5,000 words on any subject.

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



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

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.

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’.



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.

January 2019
Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize. Biennial essay prize. £20,000 top prize; 5 x £1,000 runners-up.
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland
Guild of Food Writers Awards

February 2019
Coram Voice’s Voices Writing Competition

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 (opens January)
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Essay Prize.
Methodist Women ‘At the Heart’ Writing Competition.
Wicked Young Writers Award.

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 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

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