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 North America, click here.

We aim to avoid listing competitions whose terms and conditions request copyright in entries submitted — or make other unreasonable demands. T&Cs are usually checked, but some may slip through. Please check carefully before participating. 



31st May
MTP Short Story Competition
Opens 1st February. Inclusive of non-fiction (eg biography, memoir). £1,000 / £500 / £250 / 5 x £50 prizes. Entry fee: £6 (by 28th February) or £8. Max. 3,000 words. Open to writers worldwide. 

Wasafiri Essay Prize
For “innovative critical essays of an exemplary standard, which constitute the most exciting academic work happening today across the field of international contemporary literature”. £250 prize. 6,000–9,000 words. Open only to PhD candidates and early career researchers. 

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Critical Writing Prize
“For new writing on any aspect of contemporary portrait painting”. Applicants are invited to send a proposal or pitch for a new text, alongside an example of previous writing. Three of the applicants will be selected to realise the proposed text and awarded either the first prize of £500 or one of two ‘special mention’ prizes of £250.

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Registration deadline only. Submission deadline: 30th June (see below)

The Irish Food Writing Awards
Various categories. For published work. 



4th June
Write By the Sea Literary Festival (WBTS) 2023 Writing Competitions
Various categories, including memoir / personal essay (max. 1,000 words; other categories vary). Each category prizes: €500 / €200 / €100. €10 per entry; or 3 for €25. 

30th June
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Includes memoir category. £10 per entry. 3,000 words max. £1,000 prize. 

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Open to young people. Various set questions. Prizes of a trip to London. 

Art UK Write on Art Prize
Open to young people, in years 10–13. For a 400- or 600-word piece of writing on a piece of art. 

Love Books Competition
Open to young people and adults (various age groups). “We want you to tell us why you love your favourite book, poem or play. Your response should be in the form of a piece of text of up to 750 words.” £300 / £100 prizes in each age group. 

John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Seven subject categories, including philosophy, law, theology. Open to young people. “The prize for each winner of a subject category, and the winner of the Junior category, is a scholarship worth US$2000 towards the cost of attending any John Locke Institute programme”. 

Hubert Butler Essay Prize
Theme: “How far can we trust science?”. The Prize “is intended to encourage the art of essay-writing with a European dimension and to expand interest in Butler’s work. There is a first prize of €1,500 and two second prizes of €500”. 3,000 words max. 

South Warwickshire Literary Festival Writing Competition
Includes creative non-fiction category, up to 800 words. £50 prize. Entry fee: £3. 



1st July
Exisle Publishing Your Big Break Book Pitch Competition
500 words. US$15 entry. “All (aspiring) authors who have a complete or almost complete non-fiction manuscript are eligible, and we are particularly focused on stories with global appeal from authors based in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The genres we are most closely focused on for the upcoming publishing seasons are History, Biography, and Memoir.”

17th July
The Nan Shepherd Prize
“Applications are open to previously unpublished writers based in the UK and Ireland, who consider themselves underrepresented in nature writing, whether through ethnicity, disability, class, sex, gender, sexuality or any other circumstances. This means that entrants must not have published full-length books of fiction or non-fiction with a trade publisher.” Submit synopsis / outline / chapter up to 7,000 words. 

The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize
The Prize “seeks to discover talented writers on contemporary art. The winner of the Prize receives £1,000”. Submit a review of 800–1,000 words. 



30th September
Bridport Prize Memoir Award
5,000–8,000 words plus a 300 word overview. Longlisted writers will be then required to submit 15,000 words; shortlisted, 30,000 words. £1,500 / £750 / 3 x £150. Entry fee: £24. 



30th November
Anthology Travel Writing Competition
For articles up to 1,000 words. Euro 10 entry fee (before 30th June), then Euro 15 after that. Euro 500 top prize. 



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 2023
Paul Mellon Centre Write on Art Prize
Aurora Prize for Writing
Black Ink Prize
Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour 

July 2023
Marlborough Lit Fest’s Love Books Competition
Quiet Man Dave Prize
Young Economist of the Year Competition
Young Wild Writer Competition
Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour
William T Hearn Student Essay Prize 
The National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition

August 2023
The Laurie Lee Prize for Writing
AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award
Brian Black Memorial Award 2022

September 2023
Planet New Writers Competition
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
Gaia / Class Nature Working Class Writers Nature Prize
Garden Media Guild Awards
Merky Books New Writers Prize
RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction
The Moth Magazine Nature Writing Prize
The Falconer Museum’s Falconer 150 Competition
The FT Bracken Bower Prize

October 2023
The Gardens Trust Mavis Batey Essay Prize
RUSI’s Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize
The Barbellion Prize
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
Writing East Midlands’ Solstice Nature Writing Prize
Mountaineering Scotland Mountain Writing Competition
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival Writing Competition

November 2023
JKP Writing Prize
The Somerset Maugham Awards
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize

December 2023
Writing Magazine’s Creative Non-Fiction Competition
The Philosophy Essay Prize
RHS David Berry Prize
The Writers College Free Writing Competition

January 2024
The European Society of Literature Writing Prize
Barbara O’Neill Local History Writing Competition — Past Forward Essay Competition
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Guild of Food Writers Awards
The Plaza Prizes: Memoir: First Chapters
ABSW Awards
Tacchi Morris The Page is Printed

February 2024
St Gallen Symposium Global Essay Competition
Northern Writers Awards
The Wincott Awards
Southword Literary Essay Competition
The Welkin Prize

March 2024
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law Essay Competition
Fitzcarraldo Editions / Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize
New Welsh Review Writing Awards
Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award
NAWG Members Writing Competition
BBC Young Reporter Competition
Wild Atlantic Writing Creative Nonfiction Award
The Richard Wise / ICP Prize

April 2024
The Libra Essay Prize
Young Norfolk Writing Competition
The Sophie Coe Prize

May 2024
Creative Futures Writers’ Award
Design Writing Prize
The Martha Mills Young Writers’ Prize

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Please read the About and Privacy Policy statements before using this site. Some links on MWM are affiliated. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.