Writing competitions

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. 

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



26th September
Style Magazine / Black Writers Guild Fashion & Beauty Essay Prize
Open to young black females under 25, aspiring to break into fashion and beauty journalism. 800 words on set theme. Commissions and mentoring, including one with Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo. 

30th September
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
For an essay on any aspect of early Christian history. 8,000 words maximum. 

FT Bracken Bower Prize
For writers under 35. For ‘an essay or article of no more than 5,000 words that conveys the argument, scope and style of a proposed full-length business book and include a description of its structure’. The book should be “about the challenges and opportunities of growth”. £15,000 prize. 

British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
For beer writing. Various categories. 

SWWJ’s John Walter Salver 2020
Non-fiction on the theme of women. Open to all writers 16+. 1500 max. 



1st October
The Philosophy Essay Prize
On ‘knowledge, truth and power in an online world’. £2,500

The Bergen International Essay Competition
For writers under 30. Theme: My Generation. 2,000 words max. Euro 2,500 + 3 x Euro 500. 

15th October
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
For an original essay or mini-guide, 1,200–5,000 words, related to an experience living, moving or working abroad. $500 top prize; many other runners-up cash prizes. 

30th October
The Orwell Prize for Political Writing
For a work of non-fiction.

31st October
The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize
For published biographies by a first-time biographer. £25 entry; £2,500 prize. 

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
1,000–1,500 words, open to writers aged 18–25. Theme: “Glass, China, and Reputation are easily Crack’d, and never well mended” (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1750). Fiction or non-fiction. £750 / £500. 

The Barbellion Prize
Prize is “awarded annually to an author whose work has best spoken of the experience of chronic illness and/or disability”. Any genre, including memoir and critical non-fiction. Prize fund relies on donations. Organisers hope to increase it to £1,000 by the time of the announcement of the winner (in February 2021). 

The Oldie’s Jeremy Lewis Memorial Prize
For a 400-word Memory Lane column. £500. 



27th November
New Media Writing Prize
One prize this year: £1,000. Entry may be “fiction, poetry, journalism, games, anything as long as it is interactive and makes use of digital media”. 

30th November
The Somerset Maugham Awards
Open 4th August. For a published work of non-fiction (or fiction and poetry). 

The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
For a previously unpublished review up to 800 words on new work in the arts. £3,000 top prize plus 2 x £500. Open to entries worldwide. 

Wisden Almanack Writing Competition
For an article of between 480–500 words on any cricket theme, except a match report. 



21st December
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
For an essay “on some aspect of Scottishwomen’s or gender history” dealing with any time period. 8,000–10,000 words. £100. 



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 2020
Justis International Law & Technology Writing Competition
Nobrow Press Short Story Competition
RSL Ondaatje Prize
New Media Writing Prize Unicorn Student Training Award
And Other Stories’ Northern Book Prize 
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition 
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize
The Bill Braham Memorial Essay Writing Competition
The Tom Morrison Essay Prize 

January 2021
I Must Be Off! Travel Writing Competition 
Amnesty Media Awards 
Nesta Decentralised Future Prize 
The Guild of Food Writers Awards
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Association of British Science Writers Awards
The Keats-Shelley Prize 2020 

February 2021
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
Northern Writers Awards
The Hugo Young Award
Women in Journalism’s Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation 2020
Coram Voice — Voices Writing Competition 
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
MTP Winter Short Story Competition
Tacchi-Morris The Page is Printed Prize

March 2021
Nan Shepherd Prize for Younger Writers
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival Writing Competition
Wicked Young Writers Awards
Hugh Miller Writing Competition 
Fitzcarraldo Editions Mahler & Lewitt Studios Essay Prize
New Welsh Writing Awards 
National Association of Writers’ Groups Annual Members Competition
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History World Christianities Essay Prize 

April 2021
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Globe Soup Travel Writing Competition
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize
QuietManDave Flash Non-Fiction Prize
Habinteg 2020 Prize

May 2021
Mavis Batey Essay Prize
Berlin Writing Prize
National Centre for Writing’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition
AA Gill Award for Emerging Food Critics
The Writers College Free Writing Competition
Wild Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Award

June 2021
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

July 2021
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

August 2021
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’

September 2021
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

October 2021
The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize
RSTMH Student Essay Competition

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