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. 



3rd April
Bright Blue’s Tamworth Prize
Theme: “What should ‘one nation conservatism’ mean in the 2020s? Max 1,000 words. Various non-cash prizes. 

17th April
QuietManDave Flash Non-Fiction Prize
£1,000 / £200 / £50. Open internationally. 500 words max. (Also fiction prize.)

27th April
Habinteg 2020 Prize
For an essay on the inclusivity of those with disabilities in design of home and neighbourhoods. 2,000 words maximum. £2,500 / £500. 



3rd May 
Mavis Batey Essay Prize
5,000–6,000 words on an aspect of garden history. £250. 

25th May
National Centre for Writing’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition
Open to ages 11–18, living or studying in Norfolk / NR postcode. Articles, journalism, essays (also fiction, poetry, audio). Prizes (unspecified) and ‘mentoring’. 

31st May
The Writers College Free Writing Competition
600 words. On ‘The best writing tip I’ve ever received’. £100.



1st June
Wasafiri New Writing Prize
3,000 words max. £10 entry (some subsidies available). Life-writing category. £1,000. 

15th June
Goi Peace Foundation’s International Essay Contest for Young People
“A Letter from Myself in 2030”. Ages in two categories 15–25 and 14 and under. 700 words. Various prizes. 

30th June
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Open to young writers. Theme: “Climate action and the Commonwealth”. Ages under 14, and 14–18.



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. 

31st July
Vicarious Festival 2020 Travel Writing Competition
Open “to anyone writing a book about their experience of an unfamiliar culture (or cultures) during a single journey”. £5 entry. £500 winner prize.

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



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



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.

June 2020
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction
Sunday Times Young Writers Award
Impress Prize for New Writers
Berlin Writing Prize

July 2020
Mind Media Awards
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
MTP Agency Short Story Competition
The Economist Essay Contest for Young People

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
The Biographers Club’s The Tony Lothian Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition

September 2020
Journal of Ecclesiastical History’s Eusebius Essay Prize
Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
Planet Essay Competition
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
The Nan Shepherd Prize
The RSL St Aubyn Awards
The Garden Media Guild Awards
Write to End Violence Against Women Awards
The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction
FT Bracken Bower Prize

October 2020
Bradt Travel Guides ‘New Travel Writer of the Year’ Competition
Fosseway Writers Travel Writing Competition
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
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
Somerset Maugham Awards
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
Wisden Almanack Writing Competition

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

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