W&A Working-Class Writers' Prize

W&A Working-Class Writers' Prize

Deadline date

Are you a writer who identifies as working-class? If you’re looking for an opportunity to hone your writing craft and let your work take centre stage, then this prize is for you. 

Writers & Artists are thrilled to announce the return of our Working-Class Writers’ Prize, with acclaimed author Paul Mendez confirmed as this year's judge. This competition is a celebration of the story; a format that continually finds a way to connect and empower. But everyone needs to be encouraged to share their experiences and tell them; to become part of a conversation we all need to hear.

Our inaugural winner Lucy Kissick went on to secure literary representation and a two book deal with Gollancz for her novel Plutoshine.

Steve Hennessy, our 2020 winner, is currently being mentored by award-winning author Lisa McInerney. 

To Enter 

Simply submit a sample of your writing, which must be the beginning of an unpublished work-in-progress no more than 2,000 words in length and a one-page synopsis for the full manuscript. You must also include a short piece of writing (200 words) in the Covering Letter section of our online entry form about yourself and why this prize speaks to you. 

Please note that this prize is open to entrants writing in all genres, and that full entry details can be found below on this same page.

Closing date and further announcements

Our closing date for entries is midnight Friday 16th July. Please note that the red deadline text will say 17th July (due to the way it is displayed)

Shortlisted entries will be announced on Writersandartists.co.uk on Wednesday 4th August. The winning entry, as chosen by Paul, will be announced at the end of August 2021.


To enter this competition, all entrants must:

-    Consider yourself from a working class background
-    Be over 18 and living in the UK or ROI 
-    Not have a publishing contract or agent
-    Submit a piece of unpublished writing 


The winner of our Working-Class Writers' Prize 2021 will receive:

-    A mentoring session with judge and author Paul Mendez 
-    A cash prize of £200
-    Access to a number of W&A writing and publishing events
-    One year’s membership to The Society of Authors 
-    A full stack of all the Dialogue Books hardbacks from the past 12 months
-    A writing guide bundle including the latest edition of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook or the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To Getting Published or Writers’ & Artists’ Guide To How To Hook an Agent
-    A selection of Bloomsbury books

Our five shortlisted entries will also receive a writing guide bundle, one year’s membership for The Society of Authors, as well as support from the W&A team.


Paul Mendez


Paul Mendez is a London-based English novelist of Jamaican heritage. He was born in 1982 in the Black Country, a historically industrial region. Raised within the Jehovah's Witness faith, Mendez left the organisation while still a teenager and via stints studying engineering and acting, discovered reading and writing as a means of dealing with trauma. Upon receiving a manuscript of autobiographical fragments, Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove challenged Mendez to find the fiction in his story, and the result, RAINBOW MILK, was published to strong reviews in 2020. Mendez has gone on to write for the Times Literary Supplement, Brixton Review of Books, London Review of Books, British Vogue, The Face, Attitude, Esquire and others. RAINBOW MILK was named one of the Observer's Top Ten Best Debuts for 2020; shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, the Jhalak Prize and in the Fiction Debut category of the British Book Awards; longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Authors' Club Best First Novel award. Mendez is currently adapting RAINBOW MILK as a TV screenplay.

Full competition entry details

To enter this competition, all entrants must:

-  Submit the beginning of an unpublished work-in-progress. This can be in any genre but must appear as prose, be no more than 2,000 words in length, and attached to our online submissions form in a.doc or .pdf format

-    A one-page synopsis that corresponds with the full-length version of your current work-in-progress in the same document as your 2,000 words. Please include the synopsis after your writing. The document that you upload must contain your name within the document title

-    A description of up to 200 words outlining your writing background and how you self-identify as a working-class writer within the Covering Letter section of our online form. Please note that this description does not need to be 200 words We are also not looking for writing 'credentials' or stead-fast justification, but simply how this prize speaks to you

-    Have an account with writersandartists.co.uk, which is free to create

-    Submit their entry via our online form below


You do require an internet connection to submit your competition entry, however if you have any questions or specific accessibility queries, please do contact us at writersandartists@bloomsbury.com.

Full terms and conditions here