Life Writing Prize


Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize, in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, has now completed its five year cycle. Since the Prize’s launch in 2016, we have seen 5 winners, 10 highly commended writers, 15 shortlisted writers, 30 longlisted writers and hundreds of writers were given a special mention. Many of the writers listed in the Prize went on to find agency representation or get their work published. Many of the writers are still writing, supported or boosted by their involvement in the Prize. A decision has been made to end the Prize in its current iteration.

Joanna Munro, the Life Writing Prize donor, says:

“We launched the Life Writing Prize in 2016 with the goal of increasing the range of voices actively writing and publishing in this genre. Now five years later the Prize has given an outlet to 4,000 writers who entered the Prize, increased the profile of life writing as a genre, and launched the careers of a number of writers who have written their debut books from their winning entries. Now we look forward to finding new ways to support life writing as a means for people to tell and share their stories.”

Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word, says:

“It has been a privilege to support the development of life writing over the past five years through the Prize and to read and celebrate the work of talented new writers from across the UK. We would like to thank all the writers who submitted their work; our judges, mentors and partners, the Royal Society for Literature and the Arvon Foundation for their on-going support and the agents and publishers who engaged with the Prize. The Prize would not have been possible without Joanna Munro’s generous donation and her vision for creating a Prize that was accessible and focused on discovering voices and stories that are often not heard and the Prize’s Patron Blake Morrison’s and Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre’s commitment to helping make it happen. We are looking forward to developing new opportunities for early stage life writers to get their stories out into the world.  ”

The 5 years of Life Writing Prize is celebrated in this special digital booklet.

Writers listed in the Prize’s 5 years who have gone on to publish books, or have published books forthcoming, include:

Kerri ní Dochartaigh – Thin Places

Xanthi Barker – Will This House Last Forever?

Claire Lynch – Small: On Motherhoods

Joanna Brown – The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries series

These titles are available on the Life Writing Prize booklist in Spread the Word’s shop:

You can read longlisted, shortlisted, highly commended and winning entries to the Life Writing Prize here.

Other life writing and narrative non-fiction opportunities

Wellcome Collection x Spread the Word Writing

Wasafiri Life Writing Prize:

Hinterland magazine:

Mslexia Memoir and Life Writing Prize:

Arvon memoir and life writing courses:

Published 4 November 2021