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.
The Leah Leneman Essay Prize – Women’s History Scotland
For an essay “on an aspect of women’s or gender history, focused on any time period and geographical area”. £200 prize.
The Writers College Free Writing Competition
“Write us a 600-word piece on the theme: The best writing tip I’ve ever received … the winner receives £100.”
Tacchi Morris The Page is Printed Competition
For any piece of writing, on one side of A4 only. Modest entry fees / cash prizes. Two age groups: over and under 18s. “Best of the night” prize too.
The Nature Chronicles Prize
For “any work of non-fiction prose between 2,000 and 8,000 words long on a topic the writer considers to be contemporary nature writing”. £15 entry fee (some sponsorships available). £10,000 / 5 x £1,000.
Barbara O’Neill Local History Writing Competition — Past Forward Essay Competition
For an article “on a local history topic within the geographical boundaries of Wigan Borough”. Children’s plus adult categories. Various modest cash / voucher prizes and word-length requirements.
Guild of Food Writers Awards
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
4,000 words max. €18 (€11 subsequent entries). 1st: €1,000. Two runners-up: €300 + online course.
The Plaza Memoir: First Chapters Prize
Submit a 300-word synopsis of your memoir, plus opening chapter(s) (5,000 words max.). £20 entry. Prizes: £1,500 / £300 / £100.
St Gallen Symposium Global Essay Competition
Topic question: Striving for more or thriving with less – What pressing scarcity do you see, and how do you suggest to tackle it? 2,100 words max. CHF20,000 prize fund (three winners). Open to university graduates or postgraduates.
Northern Writers Awards
One award for narrative non-fiction, and one for debut narrative non-fiction (each combined with fiction). Generous cash awards to work on projects.
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
£10 entry fee. For “an 800-word review of a recently released book, film, album, concert, exhibition, ballet, play, TV show, online stream, performance art piece or anything else that could be covered by a newspaper’s arts review pages”. £3,000 / 2 x £500 prizes.
Haklyut Society Essay Prize
“Open to any registered graduate student at a higher education institution (a university or equivalent) or to anyone who has been awarded a graduate degree in the past three years.” Essays: “should be based on original research in any discipline in the humanities or social sciences, and on an aspect of the history of travel, exploration and cultural encounter or their effects, in the tradition of the work of the Society.”. 6,000–8,000 words. £1,000 prize (may be shared).
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Opens 1st January. Theme TBC. £3,000 + 2 x £1,000.
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.
JKP 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
Black Ink Prize
Creative Futures Writers’ Award
Design Writing Prize
The Martha Mills Young Writers’ Prize
MTP Short Story Competition
Wasafiri Essay Prize
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Critical Writing Prize
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
The Irish Food Writing Awards
Write By the Sea Literary Festival (WBTS) 2023 Writing Competitions
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Art UK Write on Art Prize
Love Books Competition
John Locke Institute Essay Competition
Hubert Butler Essay Prize
South Warwickshire Literary Festival Writing Competition
Marlborough Lit Fest’s Love Books Competition
Exisle Publishing Your Big Break Book Pitch Competition
Forum for Modern Languages Essay Prize
Young Wild Writer Competition
Quiet Man Dave Prize
Working Class Writers Nature Prize
The Laurie Lee Prize for Writing
AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award
The Nan Shepherd Prize
The Burlington Contemporary Art Writing Prize
Sarah Hughes Trust Prize
William T Hearn Student Essay Prize
Source Writing Prize
Brian Black Memorial Award 2023
Morley Literature Prize for Writers of Colour
Brontë Studies Early Career Research Essay Prize
RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction
British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards
Scottish Mental Health Arts Foundation Writing Competition
Garden Media Guild Awards
Planet New Writers Competition
The Gardens Trust Mavis Batey Essay Prize
Ireland’s Own Writing Competition
Bridport Prize Memoir Award
The Moth Nature Writing Prize
Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust / Scottish Islands Explorer Writing Prize
The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize
Writing East Midlands Nature, the Environment & Sustainability” Short Story Competition
Anthology Travel Writing Competition
The Somerset Maugham Awards