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.
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.
NOVEMBER 2020 DEADLINES
New Media Writing Prize
One prize this year: £1,000. Entry may be “fiction, poetry, journalism, games, anything as long as it is interactive and makes use of digital media”. (18th December deadline for students.)
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For a previously unpublished review up to 800 words on new work in the arts.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.
DECEMBER 2020 DEADLINES
vLex International Law and Technology Writing Competition
For “blog-style articles of 1,000 words, from students around the world”. £1,500 + 3 x £250.
RSL Ondaatje Prize
For a distinguished work of non-fiction (or fiction or poetry) “evoking the spirit of a place”. £10,000.
For a book by a writer of colour. Non-fiction included.
Women’s History Scotland Essay Prize
For an essay “on some aspect of Scottishwomen’s or gender history” dealing with any time period. 8,000–10,000 words. £100.
Wild Words Winter Writing Competition
Up to 1,000 words, inspired by one of four quotes. Publication and mentoring as prizes.
JANUARY 2021 DEADLINES
The Nine Dots Prize
What does it mean to be young in an ageing world? US$100,000 prize for 3,000 words in answer to this question, to expand upon your ideas and write a short book.
Amnesty Media Awards
Various categories. For work published in 2020: journalism focusing on human rights.
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize
4,000 words max. Euro 18 Entry. Euro 1,000 / 300 / 200 for top three placings.
St Gallen Symposium Essay Competition
How can trust be repaired when it is lost? 2,100 words. For university students born in 1991 or later. CHF12,000 divided between three winners.
Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize
Up to 5,000 words. £1,500 plus 2 x £500. All prizes come with mentoring benefits too. Open to unaccented writers.
The Society for Army Historical Research Essay Prize
Open to university undergraduates and sixth form students. For “the best essay written on an aspect of the history of the armies of Britain and the Commonwealth”. £300 / £100 in each of the two age categories.
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.
Northern Writers Awards
The Hugo Young Award
Women in Journalism’s Georgina Henry Award for Digital Innovation 2020
Coram Voice — Voices Writing Competition
MTP Winter Short Story Competition
Tacchi-Morris The Page is Printed Prize
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
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
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
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
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’
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
The Moth Magazine Nature Writing Award
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
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
Royal Historical Society’s David Berry Prize