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. 



31st May
MTP 2021 Short Story Competition
Non-fiction accepted. £2,021 top prize. 3,000 words max. Open to authors worldwide. Entry fee £5 / £7. 

National Centre for Writing’s Young Norfolk Writing Competition
Open to young people living in or around Norfolk. Various prizes. 

Queen Mary Wasafiri Writing Prize
For life writing (as well as short fiction / poetry). 3,000 words. One entry £10 / two entries £16. 

The Writers College Free Writing Competition
600 words on ‘The Best Writing Tip I Ever Received’. £100. 



25th June
Libra Education Essay Prize
Aimed at students preparing for university. Set essay titles / themes, which can be interpreted or combined. 1,000–2,000 words. £150 / £75 / £50. 

30th June
Love Books Competition
For a piece up to 750 words on why you love a particular book, poem or play. (4 minute video also accepted.) Open to children 13 and over, and adults. Three age categories: £300 top prize in each. Runners up: £100. 

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition
Aimed at young people; two age groups. Theme: Community in the Commonwealth. 

Paul Mellon Centre Write on Art Prize
Aimed at young people, 15–18. For a short piece (400 or 600 words) on an artwork. £500 / £200 / 3 x £100. 



1st July
Dartington Trust Schumacher College Essay Competition
1,000–1,500 words. Theme: ‘Education as if People and Planet Matter’. Entry fee: £10 / Euro 15 / $15. Prizes: £5,000 / £2,000 / £1,000. 

10th July
Sustainable Futures Sustainability First Writing Prize
Theme: ‘Together for a Fairer Climate Future’. Essay, article, personal story or fiction. Up to 2,000 words but shorter welcomed. £1,000 / £500 / £300. 



15th September
Moth Magazine Nature Writing Prize
Ages 16 and over. Euro 15 per entry (unlimited entries permitted). 4,000 words max. A week at Circle of Masse plus Euro 1,000 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 2021
Nature Writing Prize 
The Bailie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer Award
Southward Summer Literary Essay Competition

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’
AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award

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
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
The Somerset Maugham Awards
The Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism
Wisden Almanack Writing Competition

December 2021
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize
vLex International Law and Technology Writing Competition
RSL Ondaatje Prize
Jhalak Prize
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition 

January 2022
Ian Bell New Writing Award
The Nine Dots Prize
Amnesty Media Awards
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
Rose Mary Crawshay Prize 
The Writers College My Writing Journey Competition

February 2022
Tacchi-Morris The Page is Printed Prize
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
The Guild of Food Writers Awards
Past Forward Essay Competition
Association of British Science Writers Awards
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
World Bank Blog Writing Contest
Northern Writers Awards
Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival / Bipolar Scotland Writing Competition

March 2022
Borough Press Of This Our Country Essay Competition
Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law Essay Competition
Fitzcarraldo Editions Mahler & LeWitt Studios Essay Prize
New Welsh Review Welsh Writing Awards
NAWG Members Writing Competitions
The Journal of Ecclesiastical History World Christianities Essay Prize 

April 2022
The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
Keats-Shelley Essay Prize
Together in the UK Creative Writing Competition

May 2022
Mavis Batey Essay Prize
Wild Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Award

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