Spread the Word Life Writing Prize

The Spread the Word Life Writing Prize in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre was established in 2016. Open to emerging writers living in the UK aged 18 or over, the Prize was established to celebrate and develop life writing in the UK thanks to a generous donation from Joanna Munro. Blake Morrison is Patron of the Prize.

Free to enter, the Prize aims to find the best life writing from emerging writers from across the UK. The Prize defines life writing as ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction.

The 2019 Life Writing Prize winner will receive £1,500, publication on Spread the Word’s website, an Arvon course, two years’ membership to the Royal Society of Literature and a development meeting with an editor and an agent. Two highly commended entries will each receive £500 and two mentoring sessions, a development meeting with an editor and an agent, and be published on the Spread the Word website. Three writers will be shortlisted, and six will be longlisted.

Due to the volume of entries the Prize receives, Spread the Word is unfortunately unable to provide feedback for any entries. All entries will be judged anonymously. To that effect, please ensure that your entry does not contain your name on any of the pages. Any entries with names or identifying information on will be disqualified.

The 2019 Prize is currently open for entries. You can enter here.



11.59pm on Friday 1 February 2019.



  • Entries should be original works of life writing of no more than 5,000 words (does not include the title). The word count will be checked at longlisting stage and entries longer than 5,000 words will be disqualified. There is no minimum word count.
  • For the purposes of the Prize, Life Writing is defined as ‘intended to be true’, i.e. not fiction, and is based on a significant portion from the author’s own personal experience. Traditional biographies where the piece is only about the experience of someone else are excluded. Pieces where a writer weaves a significant amount of their own experience in with someone else’s life, or a concept, are welcome.
  • Entries must be the original, previously unpublished (including online, broadcast and self-published) work of the entrant. This includes pieces of writing that have already secured a publishing deal but have not yet been published.
  • Graphic novel style entries, where illustrations, drawings or photographs accompany text, are welcome.
  • Entries can be self-contained pieces of life writing, or the first 5,000 words of a longer piece of work
  • Entries must be the individual and original work of a sole author.
  • Entries must be in English.
  • The Life Writing Prize 2019 is open to writers aged over 18 and resident in the UK who are emerging writers, and we define emerging writers for the purposes of the Life Writing Prize as identifying with the following bullet points:
    • Not agented
    • Does not have a publishing contract for a full-length work at the time of entering (please let Spread the Word know if you sign a publishing deal for a full-length work after you have entered the Prize, as this would render you ineligible).
    • Has not previously published in print a full-length work. They define a full-length work:
      – A complete work of fiction or non-fiction over 30,000 words
      – Ten or more short stories either in a collection or published individually
      – A professionally produced theatre script or screenplay, or radio play
      – Twenty or more poems either in a collection or published individually
    •  For the purposes of the Prize, self-published authors of any of the definitions above are welcome to enter (as long as the piece you are entering is totally unpublished, including self-published).


Published on:
8 Nov 2018


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