Writing competitions

Below 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 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. 

 

JULY 2020 DEADLINES

15th July
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Open to students under 18. Various subjects — philosophy, law, history, economics and more — and themes for each. Cash prizes. 

Hen Harrier Day Young Wild Writer Competition
Open to children up to 16. Up to 500 words on an aspect of British wildlife. Prizes of books. 

27th July
Young Economist of the Year Essay Competition
Open to A Level Students. 1,500 words. 5 optional essay topics. £1,000 plus 5 x £200. 

31st July
The Scribble’s Annual Article Writing Competition
“My Writing Life”. £3 entry fee. Modest cash prizes.

The RSL St Aubyn Awards
For first-commissioned works of non-fiction. Three awards of £10,000, £5,000 and £2,500 to provide financial support for talented new non-fiction writers to complete their proposed projects. 

Write on Art Prize
Open to young writers aged 15–18, two age categories. Pick one artwork from the Art UK website, and write about it. £500 / £200 / 3 x £100 — presumably in each age category. Free entry. 

Beechmore Arts Journalism Competition
For “a piece of writing, up to 1000 words, which may include images, that explores any arts-related subject, written from a journalistic or critical perspective”. £200 / £100 / (poss.) x x £50. 

Beechmore Life Writing Competition
1,000 words max. £200 / £100 / (poss.) x x £50.

Chartered Banker’s Green Finance Essay Competition
1,500 words max. answering the question “How can finance professionals actively encourage changes in consumer behaviour to achieve society’s goals on climate change?”. £100 in ethical gift vouchers. Free entry. 

 

AUGUST 2020 DEADLINES

1st August
Eyewear Publishing’s Beverly Prize for Literature
Book length manuscript, any subject; nonfiction included. £25 entry fee. £1,000 prize plus publication.

31st August
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
£15 entry fee; £2,000 prize. For a proposal of no more than 20 pages, including ten-page sample chapter. 

MTP Agency Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted. 3,000 words maximum. £5 entry fee. £500 / £300 / £200. Opens 1st June. 

Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
2,000 words max. £200 / £100 / £50. 

Canal and Rivers Trust ‘Words on the Waterway’
Up to 300 words on “your most memorable visit to the waterways”. Prizes of signed books by Stephen Fry. 

 

SEPTEMBER 2020 DEADLINES

1st September
Planet Essay Competition
1,500–2,000 words. A broad brief. They welcome ‘creative and unconventional ways of exploring the essay form’. Editors like ‘Lively well-crafted essays that leave an impression’. They would welcome essays on Welsh language, culture, politics, but essays are required in English. 

La Piccioletta Barca Contest
(UK magazine.) $700 prize fund. Theme: ‘antimatter’. Creative nonfiction and other forms accepted. 5,000 words max. 

Future Potentialis / Alexandria Essay Prize
For essays “with the most thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments around ‘The first time'” The aim of the Prize is to “find new perspectives on one of the great mysteries of science: the beginning”. Prizes: Euro 250 / 150 / 50. Entries in English or German. 10,000 characters max (includes spaces). 

4th September
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
Theme: “Communal solidarity and individual freedom: antagonists or allies?”. 3,000 words max. £1,000 / 2 x £500. 

10th September / 17th September
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Entry forms payment by 10th; submissions by 17th. Various categories, including photography. 

15th September
The Moth Magazine Nature Writing Award
For an unpublished piece of non-fiction (or fiction / poetry) up to 4,000 words. Euro 15 entry fee. Euro 1,000 + retreat prize. 

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. 

21st September
MsLexia Memoir & Life Writing Competition
£25 entry. £5,000 top prize. MS feedback for winner and three runners-up. 

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. 

The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
$1,000 top prize.

 

OCTOBER 2020 DEADLINES

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

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. 

 

NOVEMBER 2020 DEADLINES

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. 

 

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.

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

September 2020
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
The Nan Shepherd Prize
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

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

November 2020
The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize
RSTMH Student Essay Competition
New Media Writing Prize

December 2020
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
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

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