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Writers' & Artists' Short Story Competition 2021

For published and aspiring writers alike - enter our free annual short story competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on one of Arvon's residential writing courses*, as well as seeing your story published on

To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words. And that's it. Unlike previous years, there's no theme for you to base your story on; all you have to do is make sure you're registered with the website, the subject line of your email reads 'W&A Short Story Competition 2021' and you send it to

The closing date for entries is midnight 12th February 2021. The winner of the competition - along with two runners-up - will be announced on the blog pages of this site in March 2021.

Don't forget to read the terms and conditions in full (below) before you enter. Please remember to register on before submitting your entry.

Good luck! 

*Please note that due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, Arvon's residential writing courses are currently on hold so the competition prize may instead be a place on one of Arvon's Online Writing Weeks - a structured week of workshops, one-to-ones, social gatherings and readings.

This year's judge

Alysoun Owen has been the Editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook for over six years and has worked in Publishing in the UK and overseas for more than 25 years as a commissioning editor and project lead on print and digital products. She runs a publishing consultancy and project management company. In her role as Yearbook Editor, Alysoun gives regular talks at literary events and writing conferences across the UK about how to get published.

About Arvon

Arvon runs three historic writing houses in the UK, where published writers lead week-long residential courses. Covering a diverse range of genres, from poetry and fiction to screenwriting and comedy, Arvon courses have provided inspiration to thousands of people at all stages of their writing lives. You can find out more and book a course online at 

Recent competitions




Working-Class Writers' Prize 2020

Are you a writer who identifies as working-class? Looking for an opportunity to get your writing out there? Are you getting ready to take that next step on the path to publication?

Writers & Artists are thrilled to announce the return of our Working-Class Writers’ Prize, with award-winning author and tireless advocate of working-class writers, Lisa McInerney, confirmed as this year's judge.

Click here for full details on how to enter.

Writing For Children & YA Competition

Do you have a work-in-progress of a Middle Grade or YA novel? Looking for an opportunity to receive expert editorial guidance from a best-selling children's author?

To celebrate the launch of the new edition of the Guide to Writing For Children & YA, best-selling children's author Linda Strachan will be judging our children's fiction competition. 

Click here for full details on how to enter.

Working-Class Writers' Prize

Are you a writer who identifies as working-class? Looking for an opportunity to get your writing out there? Are you getting ready to take that next step on the path to publication?

We're thrilled to announce our inaugural writing prize for working-class writers, judged by best-selling author and working-class writer Natasha Carthew.

Click here for full details on how to enter.

Retreat West Short Story Competition

Writers & Artists and Retreat West have teamed up for a free writing competition that offers you the chance to win a place on one of Retreat West’s incredible writing retreats. All you have to do is write a short story no longer than 1,000 words!


Sonnet Writing Competition

On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration

2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, and to celebrate this important year we’ve come together with The Arden Shakespeare and the Royal Society of Literature to offer an exclusive competition, open to published and aspiring poets alike.



How to enter

On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration explores how our greatest poet still speaks to today’s foremost contemporary poets in new and surprising ways. With this in mind, we want you to take inspiration from Shakespeare, and pen your very own sonnet in response to a Shakespeare sonnet of your choice.

Please email your entry to The subject line of your email must be “Sonnets competition” in order to be considered, and please mention the name of the sonnet you have been inspired by within the body of your email.

All entrants must register on before submitting your entry.

The closing date is midnight on Monday 31st May, 2016. The winners of the competition will be announced on this site in June 2016.


The first, second and third-placed sonnets will all be published on alongside feedback from our esteemed judge, Ruth Padel. The writer behind the first prize entry will receive a beautiful leather-bound edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works (RRP £99.99) and free membership to the Royal Society of Literature for a year, entitling them to:

  • Attend RSL events – over 20 each year – free of charge
  • Bring guests to events at a discount
  • Enjoy priority booking to RSL/Man Booker masterclasses with a 50% discount
  • Subscribe free to the bi-annual RSL Review
  • Attend the RSL summer party and AGM
  • Receive the RSL monthly e-newsletter

The winning entry will also have the honour of being published in the Royal Society of Literature Review.

N.B. If the poet of the winning entry does not live in the UK and is unable to take advantage of the benefits of a Royal Society of Literature membership then an alternative prize of £50-worth of Bloomsbury titles will be offered. 

Second and third prize entries will receive a copy of On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration, edited by Hannah Crawforth and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann and a gift edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Our judge

Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel is a prize-winning British poet and author with close connections to Greece, music and conservation. Her ninth collection, Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth, on creativity, conflict and the Middle East, was short-listed for the T S Eliot Prize. Her prose works include a novel featuring wildlife in India and a book on tiger conservation. Awards include First Prize in the UK National Poetry Competition, a Cholmondeley Award from The Society of Authors, an Arts Council of England Writers’ Award and a British Council Darwin Now Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Member of the Bombay Natural History Society, and Council Member of the Zoological Society of London.


On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration brings together 30 of the world’s leading contemporary poets, writing in response to Shakespeare’s sonnets. Published in association with the Royal Society of Literature contributing poets include: Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Paul Muldoon, Ruth Padel, Simon Armitage, Roger McGough and Jo Shapcott. To purchase On Shakespeare's Sonnets: A Poets' Celebration visit

The Arden Shakespeare is an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. For over a hundred years, it has set the gold standard for editing and publication of Shakespeare’s plays. The list now also contains a broad range of critical studies for students and scholars providing fresh insight into the work and world of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including the Springboard Shakespeare, Arden Early Modern Drama and Shakespeare Now! series.

The Royal Society of Literature, founded by George IV in 1820, celebrates and nurtures all that is best in British literature, past and present. We organise over twenty events a year; offer prizes, awards and grants to established and emerging writers; run Masterclasses with the Booker Prize Foundation; and manage a Schools Outreach Programme. At the heart of the RSL is its Fellowship, which encompasses the most distinguished authors working in the English language. We aim to build bridges between our Fellows and those who enjoy their work, so that their unique talents are shared as widely as possible. 

Terms and conditions

These are the full terms and conditions for Writers' & Artists' Yearbook Short Story Competition 2021.

1. No purchase necessary, but entrants must be registered on

2. The competition is open to all ages, professions and nationalities, and you don’t have to reside in the UK to enter. 

3. All entries must be original and unpublished.

4. Writers may submit one entry only.

5. Winners will be notified at the email address stated in their entry. Sign-up for our newsletter here if you want to be notified about the winner or check back on You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where competition updates will also be posted.

6. Entries must be submitted via email to with the subject heading: "W&A Short Story Competition 2021"

Please include your email address and other contact details in the body of the email. Your entry can appear in the body of the email or as a Word/PDF attachment. As long as it’s clear and easy to read, we have no other formatting requirements.

7. Your entry must be submitted before midnight on 12th February, 2021. Entries will not be accepted after this date.

8. By submitting, all entrants thereby grant The Bloomsbury Publishing Group the right to publish their entry on in the event of their work being shortlisted and/or winning the competition.

9. The Bloomsbury Publishing Group cannot accept responsibility for entries which are not received or which are received after the closing date due to technical failure or for any other reason.

10. Winners agree to participate in publicity events in connection with the competition.

11. The Bloomsbury Publishing Group and the winners may enter into agreements which will grant The Bloomsbury Publishing Group the publishing, broadcasting, serial and electronic rights in the shortlisted and winning entries.

12. The Bloomsbury Publishing Group reserves the right to change the rules of this competition without notice.

13. The winners of the competition will be notified in March 2021 and the winning entries published on

14. Prizes must be taken by 31st December 2021 and are subject to availability.

15. Bloomsbury are not responsible for travel costs to and from the writing retreat, so if you live outside of the UK, you will be responsible for your own travel costs. 

16. The winning prize cannot be exchanged for the monetary equivalent. 

17. The decision of the competition judges will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

18. Employees of The Bloomsbury Publishing Group, and members of their immediate family, are excluded from participating in the competition.

19. We may, from time to time, inform you of new books and special offers that we think will be of interest.

20. Please send direct competition queries to Any sent to will not be answered.