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. 


31st May 2019
Writers College Writing Competition
On the ‘Best Writing Tip I’ve Ever Received’. Modest cash prize. Open to writers internationally.


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

3rd June 2019
Young Norfolk Writing Competition
Ages 11-18. Includes an essay category.

12th June 2019
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
For published non-fiction books (via publishers).

15th June 2019
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
Short essay on ‘Creating a Society Full of Kindness’. Open to people 25 and under.

Sunday Times Young Writers Award
For a book by a writer aged under 35. Self-published acceptable. Non-fiction or fiction. Prizes: £5,000 plus 3 x £500.

28th June 2019
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Life writing category. £1,000 winner’s prize. (Also fiction and poetry.)

30th June 2019
Impress Prize for New Writers
For a book proposal, up to 6,000 words, including sample chapter. £25 entry fee. £500 prize, but publication not guaranteed.

Berlin Writing Prize 2019
For writing (fiction as well as non-fiction) on the theme “The Circus”. Various prizes.


31st July 2019
Park Publications Article Competition
My Writing Day. £50 / £25 / £15

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Open to students. Option of three set questions in several categories, including Politics, Law and Theology. £100 category prizes. £500 top prize.

MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted (as well as fictional forms), 3,000 words maximum. New authors only. International writers welcome. £300 / £200 / £100.



15th August 2019
The Charroux Literary Competition
Memoir. £150 / £50 / £30. 1,500–3,000 words.

16th August 2019
The Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
Open to writers 18–35. 3,500 words max. £1,500 top prize, plus 2 x £500. ‘Dynamic, lively and authoritative’ essays sought, on any subject.


1st September 2019
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
1,200 – 3,000 words on your experience of moving, working or living abroad. $500 / $150 / $100 / $50 x ?



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.

June 2019
The Comment Awards

July 2019
I Must Be Off! – Travel Writing Competition
Guild of Health Writers’ Health Writing Awards
AITO Travel Writing Award

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
Mind Media Awards

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
Amnesty International Media Awards
Cassandra Jardine Award
Guild of Food Writers Awards
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Association of British Science Writers Awards

February 2020
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Hugo Young Award
New Welsh Writing Awards
Northern Writers Awards
Johnson & Johnson Awards 2019
Coram Voices 2019 
The Wincott Awards
MTP Short Story Competition
Hugh Cudlipp Student Award

March 2020
The George Borrow Trust Essay Competition.
Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize.
The Tom Morrison Essay Prize
Wicked Young Writers Awards
Mencap Journalism Awards
English & Media Centre’s emagazine Close Reading Competition
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s World Christianities Essay Prize
Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 
Tacchi-Morris The Page Is Printed

April 2020
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.
Robert Fear’s Travel Stories Competition
Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Wavell Writes Essay Writing Competition
The Write It Competition
NAWG Members’ Creative Writing Competition

May 2020
The Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction
New Nature Writing Competition


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