Life Writing

The Spread the Word Life Writing Prize in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre was established in 2016. Open to new and 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 competition is open to writers who have yet to publish a full-length work or have a literary agent.

The 2017 prize was won by Jon Paul Roberts for 1955-2012.
The 2018 prize was won by Danny Brunton for New Boy.
The 2019 prize was won by Charlotte Derrick for The Lady in Black. 

The 2020 Life Writing Prize 2020 was open for entries between Monday 4 November at midday and closed on Monday 3 February 2020.

All entrants were contacted with news about whether they were chosen for the longlist on Thursday 12 March 2020 via Submittable / e-mail.  We are sorry if this notification didn’t reach you as we intended. We know life writing takes guts and heart and we encourage you to enter again next year. The Life Writing Prize will open for entries in November 2020.
The longlist will be announced in May / June 2020. 

How To Enter

Interested in entering the Life Writing Prize 2020? Great! We can’t wait to read your work. Please read this section carefully before you submit your work to the Prize; it helps you and it helps us.

  • The Life Writing Prize 2020 is open for entries from Monday 4 November 2019 at midday and will close on Monday 3 February at 11am.

  • Before you enter, please read the Prize rules and the FAQs. This is really important. Each year we receive a very high number of entries with writers’ names on them – these get instantly disqualified as stated in the rules. So please read these through before you submit to the Prize, to give yourself the best chance.

  • The Life Writing Prize is open to new and emerging life writers. We define what we mean by a new or emerging writer in the rules

  • The work you submit has to be unpublished (we elaborate on this in the rules and FAQs).

  • We accept entries of up to 5000 words that are complete, or, the beginning of a longer piece of work.

  • Writers can only enter once.

  • You can enter online via Submittable here:

  • Or, you can enter by post by downloading, printing and completing this entry form and attaching it to your work, and sending it to Spread the Word, The Albany, Douglas Way, London SE8 4AG. Download an entry form here: Life Writing Prize Entry Form 2020

Winning the competition was a massive boost my confidence and I really began to believe that I could write well and had a story worth telling. 

Danny Brunton, Life Writing Prize Winner 2018

Judges 2020

Kerry Hudson

Nell Stevens

Sathnam Sanghera

Life Writing Prize Mentors 2020

Colin Grant

Max Porter

Kerri ní Dochartaigh

Writing Mentor

Jo Dingley

Editor Mentor

Life Writing Prize Winners and Listed Writers

Jon Paul Roberts

Winner 2017

Danny Brunton

Winner 2018

Charlotte Derrick

Winner 2019

Claire Lynch

Highly Commended 2017

Kerri Ní Dochartaigh

HIghly Commended 2017

Laura Morgan

Highly Commended 2018

Xanthi Barker

Highly Commended 2018

Helen Longstreth

Highly Commended 2019

Alison Marr

Highly Commended 2019

Cathy Galvin

Shortlisted 2017

Kathy Hoyle

Shortlisted 2017

Gill Haigh

Shortlisted 2017

David Murphy

Shortlisted 2018

Ruth Tudor

Shortlisted 2018

Kate Ivanova

Shortlisted 2018

Sulaxana Hippisley

Shortlisted 2019

Laurane Marchive

Shortlisted 2019

Oluwafunmilayo Adewale

Shortlisted 2019

Topher Campbell

Longlisted 2017

Sara Jafari

Longlisted 2017

Lizanne Davies

Longlisted 2017

Kashmir Tutt

Longlisted 2017

Deirdre Shanahan

Longlisted 2017

Kaveri Woodward

Longlisted 2017

Lui Sit

Longlisted 2018

Sue Rickard

Longlisted 2018

Stevie Heaven

Longlisted 2018

Farhana Shaikh

Longlisted 2018

Aisling Twomey

Longlisted 2019

Madeline Cross

Longlisted 2019

Roisin Maguire

Longlisted 2019

k devan

Longlisted 2019

Sam Hampson

Longlisted 2019

Leke Apena

Longlisted 2019