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. 



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”. (18th December deadline for students.)

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For a previously unpublished review up to 800 words on new work in the arts.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. 



1st December
vLex International Law and Technology Writing Competition
For “blog-style articles of 1,000 words, from students around the world”. £1,500 + 3 x £250.

4th December
RSL Ondaatje Prize
For a distinguished work of non-fiction (or fiction or poetry) “evoking the spirit of a place”. £10,000.

15th December
Jhalak Prize
For a book by a writer of colour. Non-fiction included.

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. 

Wild Words Winter Writing Competition 
Up to 1,000 words, inspired by one of four quotes. Publication and mentoring as prizes. 



18th January
The Nine Dots Prize
What does it mean to be young in an ageing world? US$100,000 prize for 3,000 words in answer to this question, to expand upon your ideas and write a short book. 

21st January
Amnesty Media Awards
Various categories. For work published in 2020: journalism focusing on human rights. 

31st January
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
4,000 words max. Euro 18 Entry. Euro 1,000 / 300 / 200 for top three placings. 



1st February
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
How can trust be repaired when it is lost? 2,100 words. For university students born in 1991 or later. CHF12,000 divided between three winners.

Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
Up to 5,000 words. £1,500 plus 2 x £500. All prizes come with mentoring benefits too. Open to unaccented writers. 

15th February
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
Open to university undergraduates and sixth form students. For “the best essay written on an aspect of the history of the armies of Britain and the Commonwealth”. £300 / £100 in each of the two age categories. 



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.

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

February 2021
Northern Writers Awards
The Hugo Young Award
Women in Journalism’s Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation 2020
Coram Voice — Voices Writing Competition 
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
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

October 2021
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

November 2021
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
The Philosophy Essay Prize
Guardian Weekend x gal-dem memoir writing competition

December 2021
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize

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