Writing competitions

This is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing competitions from UK, Ireland and Europe — although some are open to writers internationally. 

For non-fiction writing competitions from Canada and America, and mostly aimed at North American writers, click here.

For competitions in Australia and New Zealand, click here

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 slip through. Please check carefully. 


22nd November
New Media Writing Prize
Various categories, including journalism.

30th November
Somerset Maugham Awards
For a published work of non-fiction (or fiction / poetry) by author under 30. Prize to be spent on foreign travel.

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
For an unpublished review of up to 800 words. £3,000 plus 2 x £500.

Wisden Almanack Writing Competition
For a short article on a cricketing theme. 480–500 words. Publication in the next almanack and an invite to the launch dinner as prize.



1st December
Justis International Law & Technology Writing Competition 2020
Open to undergraduate students. £2,000 / 3 x £250.

9th December 
Nobrow Press Short Story Competition
Theme is ‘The Censor’. Non-fiction also accepted. £2,000 top prize. Up to eleven runners-up, £150. 3,000 words maximum. 

11th December
RSL Ondaatje Prize
For books evoking a spirit of place. 

13th December
New Media Writing Prize Unicorn Student Training Award
For “good storytelling”: non-fiction / fiction.

15th December
And Other Stories’ Northern Book Prize
For an unpublished book. Free entry. Writer must have strong links with the North of England.

21st December
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition
For a 1,000 piece of work written or oral non-fiction (or fiction) inspired by one of four quotes (see website).

31st December
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize
For the best essay addressing an aspect of Scottish history; must be a ‘genuine work of research’. 6,000–10,000 words. £250.

The Bill Graham Memorial Essay Writing Competition
2,500–3,000 word essay “on a military topic within the defined boundaries of the Pike & Shot Society’s research period, which is 1400 to 1721”.



14th January
The Keats-Shelley Prize 2020
On some aspect of the works or lives of the Romantics and their circles. Max 3,000 words. Opens December 2019.

23rd January
Amnesty Media Awards
For work published in 2019 that exposes human rights issues.

31st January
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Euro 1,000 / 300 (plus retreat) / 200. Euro 17 entry fee (Euro 11 for additional entries).



1st February 
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Theme: Freedom Revisited: Which aspects of freedom need to be defended, or recalibrated, to meet the challenges of our time? 2,100 words max.

29th February
MTP Winter Short Story Competition
Opens 1st December. Open worldwide; most genres (including non-fiction, memoir). £400 / £300 / £200. 



31st March
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History World Christianities Essay Prize
£500. On “any subject relating to the history of Christianity outside Europe and North America since the year 700”. 8,000 words max.



31st July
Vicarious Festival 2020 Travel Writing Competition
Open “to anyone writing a book about their experience of an unfamiliar culture (or cultures) during a single journey”. £5 entry. £500 winner prize.



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.

December 2019
The Institute of Information Law’s “Science Fiction & Information Law” Essay Competition
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize.
Castle Craig’s 30th Anniversary Essay Writing Competition
War for the Wounded (Reformatted Prize) for 2020

January 2020
Cassandra Jardine Award
Guild of Food Writers Awards
Association of British Science Writers Awards

February 2020
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
Hugo Young Award
New Welsh Writing Awards
Northern Writers Awards
Johnson & Johnson Awards
Coram Voices 
The Wincott Awards
Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation

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
Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 
Tacchi-Morris The Page Is Printed
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize
Nan Shepherd Prize for Younger Writers

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
Writers College Writing Competition

 June 2020
Creative Future Writers’ Award
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Young Norfolk Writing Competition
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
Sunday Times Young Writers Award
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Impress Prize for New Writers
Berlin Writing Prize
Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize
FT/McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize

July 2020
Mind Media Awards
Park Publications Article Competition
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
The Economist Essay Contest for Young People

August 2020
Nature’s Essay Competition
The Charroux Literary Competition
The Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
SME Week Youth Essay Competition
World Congress of Faiths Essay Award
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition

September 2020
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
Planet Essay Competition
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
The Nan Shepherd Prize
The RSL St Aubyn Awards
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
FT Bracken Bower Prize

October 2020
Bradt Travel Guides ‘New Travel Writer of the Year’ Competition
Fosseway Writers Travel Writing Competition
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
The Orwell Prize for Political Writing
Deborah Rogers Foundation 2020 Writers Award

November 2020
The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize
RSTMH Student Essay Competition

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.