Below is a list of non-fiction, essay, memoir and life writing competitions, awards and prizes from UK, Ireland and Europe — although some are open to writers internationally.
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.
FEBRUARY 2021 DEADLINES
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival / Bipolar Scotland Writing Competition
Theme: ‘Normality?’. Creative non-fiction of between 500 and 2,000 words, including letters, diary entries, essays, autobiography, journalism. (Fiction and poetry categories too.) Free entry. Publication plus opportunity to perform works.
MARCH 2021 DEADLINES
Borough Press Of This Our Country Essay Competition
Open to writers of Nigerian heritage. Theme: several, based on reflections and memories of Nigeria or Nigerian culture or traditions. 2,500–3,500 words. £1,000 top prize. Publication in essay collection.
Keats-Shelley Essay Prize
For an essay up to 3,000 words “on any aspect of the writing and/or lives of the Romantics and their circles”. Two essays accepted per writer. No fee. Also poetry prize (£10 entry fee). £5,000 total prize fund.
Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law Essay Competition
Open to non-doctored students and researchers. “Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?”. £750 / £500 / £250.
Fitzcarraldo Editions Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize
“£3,000 to the best proposal for a book-length essay (minimum 25,000 words) by a writer resident in the UK & Ireland who has yet to secure a publishing deal”
New Welsh Review Welsh Writing Awards
For a short book (5,000–30,000 words) on a Welsh theme. £1,000 top prize.
NAWG Members Writing Competitions
Includes memoir and travel writing category.
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History World Christianities Essay Prize
£500 to the author of an original research article on any subject relating to the history of Christianity outside Europe and North America since the year 700.
APRIL 2021 DEADLINES
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
For a standalone non-academic essay (or prose / poetry). Max. 2,500 words. Open to writers worldwide. £10,000 / £3,000 / £2,000.
Together in the UK Creative Writing Competition
Open to all first or second generation migrants. Adult and under-18s categories. Essays: 1,000 words max. (Short stories and poetry also accepted.) Various prizes. Some usage rights on all entries reserved: check T&Cs carefully.
MAY 2021 DEADLINES
Mavis Batey Essay Prize
On an aspect of garden history, by a current student or recent graduate. 5,000–6,000 words.
MTP 2021 Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted. £2,021 top prize. 3,000 words max. Open to authors worldwide. Entry fee £5 / £7.
National Centre for Writing’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition
Open to young people living in or around Norfolk. Various prizes.
UNCONFIRMED AND FURTHER AHEAD …
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.
Nature Writing Prize
The Bailie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer Award
Libra Education Essay Prize
Vicarious Festival 2020 Travel Writing Competition
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Southward Summer Literary Essay Competition
Anne Frank Creative Writing Awards
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Hen Harrier Day Young Wild Writer Competition
Young Economist of the Year Essay Competition
The Scribble’s Annual Article Writing Competition
The RSL St Aubyn Awards
Write on Art Prize
Beechmore Arts Journalism Competition
Beechmore Life Writing Competition
Chartered Banker’s Green Finance Essay Competition
Eyewear Publishing’s Beverly Prize for Literature
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
Canal and Rivers Trust ‘Words on the Waterway’
AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award
Deborah Rogers Foundation 2022 Writers Award
Planet Essay Competition
La Piccioletta Barca Contest
Future Potentialis / Alexandria Essay Prize
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
The Garden Media Guild Awards
The Moth Magazine Nature Writing Award
MsLexia Memoir & Life Writing Competition
The Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize
Style Magazine / Black Writers Guild Fashion & Beauty Essay Prize
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
FT Bracken Bower Prize
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
SWWJ’s John Walter Salver 2020
The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize
RSTMH Student Essay Competition
The Bergen International Essay Competition
The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
The Barbellion Prize
The Oldie’s Jeremy Lewis Memorial Prize
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
The Philosophy Essay Prize
Guardian Weekend x gal-dem memoir writing competition
The Somerset Maugham Awards
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
Wisden Almanack Writing Competition
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize
vLex International Law and Technology Writing Competition
RSL Ondaatje Prize
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition
Tacchi-Morris The Page is Printed Prize
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
The Guild of Food Writers Awards
Past Forward Essay Competition
Association of British Science Writers Awards
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
World Bank Blog Writing Contest
Northern Writers Awards