Writing competitions

Below 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



31st January 2018
Fish Short Memoir Contest
First prize Euro 1,000. Runner-up – writers’ retreat.

31st January 2018
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland
£200 / £600 – various categories. Open 31st December; for work published in 2017.

31st January 2018
Guild of Food Writers Awards 2018
Various categories.



1st February 2018
Northern Writers Awards.
3,000-6,000 word prose extract.

2nd February 2018
New Welsh Writing Awards.
For an essay collection. Open to all writers educated in Wales.

8th February 2018
Coram Voice’s Voices 2018 Writing Competition
‘Who or what makes you proud’. Open to children in care / care leavers. Various age categories. Voucher prizes.

9th February 2018
Spread the Word Life Writing Prize.
Unpublished piece of life-writing, up to 5,000 words.



1st March 2018
City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition 2017–18
For a ‘story’ — including memoir or travel writing — of up to 2,000 words on the theme of ’40’. Various age groups, both adults / children.

1st March 2018
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
For an essay of at least 5,000 words, on Borrow’s work. £500 prize.

2nd March 2018
University of Warwick’s The School of Modern Languages and Cultures’ Two Chairs Creative Writing Competition
Entries in English or German. Over and under 18s categories.

6th March 2018
Words for the Wounded Prize.
Four categories, including one non-fiction.

15th March 2018
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize
For unpublished writers. For a proposal of a book-length essay. £3,000.

16th March 2018
Wainwright Prize.
For writing on nature and the outdoors. Opens 5th February.

18th March 2018
Thresholds International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition.
Author Profile / ‘We recommend’. £500, plus 2 x £100.

23rd March 2018
UKAHN Essay Competition
On the history of nursing. £100.



11th April 2018
The Winchester Writers’ Festival Writing Competition 2018
Includes a memoir category. Up to 2,500 words.

15th April 2018
Hugh Miller Writing Competition
Children’s and adult categories. For any form of writing inspired by fossils in Scotland.

30th April 2018
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition
Various categories, including memoir, comedy, travel (and fictional forms).



1st May 2018
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
Open to young writers in the Commonwealth. Theme: Towards a Common Future. Two age categories. (Hard copy deadline. Online entries open until 1st June 2018.)

1st May 2018
John Murray Prize with the Spectator
Essay on the subject of Origin. £20,000 book contract (to expand essay into book-length project.)

15th May 2018
Transitions Abroad 2018 Writers’ Contest
Essay related to moving, living or working abroad. 1,200 to 3,000 words.

31st May 2018
Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals’ Creative Writing Prize
500 words. Three age categories (including children’s). ‘piece of prose’ (as well as poetry), which presumably includes non-fiction.



1st June 2018
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
Open to young writers in the Commonwealth. Theme: Towards a Common Future. Two age categories.

13th July 2018
Wasafiri Life Writing Prize.
Life writing.

31st July 2018
Park Publications Article Competition
“Reflections on Writing”

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


FURTHER AHEAD … but unconfirmed

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.

February 2018
Artificium ‘In Brief’ Writing competition.

April 2018.

Gawp – Green Alphabet Writing Prize – by Flipside
Travel for Seniors Writing Competition.
The Reader Berlin
I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition.

August 2018.
W&N Student Essay Prize
World Congress of Faiths Essay Award
The London Magazine Essay Competition

September 2018.
Writers in Oxford Young Oxfordshire Writers Competition
The Planet Essay Competition
Bright Blue’s The Tamworth Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
The Garden Media Guild Awards.
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize.
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
Cassandra Jardine Prize, open to young women journalists

October 2018. 
The Royal Institute of Philosophy essay prize.
The Portobello Prize. For ‘new voices in narrative non-fiction’
Royal Society of Literature – Giles St Aubyn Non-Fiction Award
The Armchair Mountaineer Wild Writing Competition
Scottish History Network School Essay Prize. Open to High School students only
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize.

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
The Philosophical Quarterly’s Essay Prize
The Observer / Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism.

December 2018
Michael Terence Publishing Short Story Competition
Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival Writing Competition
Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Awards
New Media Writing Prize.

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 2018 Calibre Essay Prize

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