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



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.)

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

Cancer World Journalism Award
For work on the subject of cancer; various categories. Euro 1,500 for each.

4th May 2018
Tacchi Morris: The Page Is Printed
One side of A4: any genre. Modest cash prizes.

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

National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition 2018
500 words on an inspirational travel experience.

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.

Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
For writers under 35. For a ‘dynamic, authoritative and lively’ essay, max 3,500 words. £1000 / £500. Other benefits.

I Must Be Off! – Travel Writing Competition
Free entry deadline (actual deadline 31st July 2018). Travel articles, stories and reflections, 1,000 words.



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

The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
For a work of non-fiction, submitted by publisher.

15th June 2018
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
‘The change I want to make’. Under 25s only.

29th June 2018
Impress Prize
Book proposal and sample chapter, 6,000 words. (Fiction, as well as non-fiction.)

30th June 2018
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted (as well as fiction), 3,000 words maximum.



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

31st July 2018
Robert Fear’s 2018 Travel Stories Competition
Various modest cash prizes / publication.

Park Publications Article Competition
“Reflections on Writing”.

I Must Be Off! – Travel Writing Competition
Travel articles, stories and reflections, 1,000 words.

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Open to students whose 19th birthday falls after the deadline date (i.e. 18s and under). Essay categories in philosophy, politics, economics and history.



31st August 2018
Association of Christian Writers Journalism Competition
For a topical, well researched article, not necessarily with Christian slant.

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.

Gawp – Green Alphabet Writing Prize – by Flipside
Travel for Seniors Writing Competition.
The Reader Berlin

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
Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards.

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 Calibre Essay Prize
Fish Short Memoir Contest
ABSW Science Writers’ Awards for Britain and Ireland
Guild of Food Writers Awards 2018

February 2019
Northern Writers Awards.
New Welsh Writing Awards.
Coram Voice’s Voices 2018 Writing Competition
Spread the Word Life Writing Prize.

March 2019
City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition 2017–18
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 2018
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History Essay Prize.

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.

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