London Short
Story Prize

Our annual London Short Story Prize seeks to discover, publish and profile the best stories and writers coming out of the capital.

The London Short Story Prize is Spread the Word’s annual prize for talented London short story writers. The Prize’s aim is to find the best short stories from writers in the capital.

The 2019 judges for The London Short Story Prize, were writers Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Eley Williams, and literary agent Charlotte Seymour from Andrew Nurnberg Associates.

On 3 December, we announced that Judith Wilson won the London Short Story Prize 2019 for ‘Jacking Sea Fruits in the Dark.’ She wins £1000 and her short story was published in Open Pen London. Isha Karki and Caroline Rae were highly commended and each received £250.

The full longlist saw their short stories published in the London Short Story Prize 2019 Anthology, produced in partnership with Kingston University Press and launched online on 23 April 2020.

You can download it for free here: The London Short Story Prize Anthology 2019.

Previous winners include: Guy Ware, Maria Thomas, Foye McCarthy, Joanna Campbell, Ruby Cowling and Clare Fisher. You can find out more about them below.

The London Short Story Prize 2020 will not be running this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


It always feels exposing to enter creative work for a competition, yet to have my short story picked out from so many entires has been an incredible boost for my writing confidence.

JUDITH WILSON, WINNER of the London Short Story Prize 2019


From imagined future worlds to recent history, from detailing the clamorous to the clandestine, alongside forensic portrayals of the present moment, this anthology contains all that short stories can be. What a delight to be part of its compilation.

Eley Williams, London Short Story Prize 2019 judge


London Short Story Prize 2019 winner

Judith Wilson

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Judith Wilson is a writer and magazine journalist. She has been awarded 3rd Prize for the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize 2019, and was shortlisted for The London Short Story Prize 2018. She has just completed the MA Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Judith is currently writing an historical novel, set in London in the 1860s. Find her at or @judithwrites

London Short Story Prize Winner 2018

Guy Ware

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Guy Ware is the author more than thirty short stories, including the collection, ‘You Have 24 Hours to Love Us’ (Comma, 2012), and three novels. He won the London Short Story Prize 2018 and was longlisted for the Galley Beggars Story Prize 2019. ‘The Fat of Fed Beasts’ (Salt, 2015), was chosen as a ‘Paperback of the year’ by Nick Lezard in the Guardian, and described as “Brilliant … the best debut novel I have read in years.” ‘Reconciliation’ (Salt, 2017) was described by The Literary Review as “memorable and inventive” and by the Guardian as “exhilarating, and very funny”. ‘The Faculty of Indifference’ will be published in July 2019. Guy lives with his family in New Cross, South London.

London Short Story Prize Winner 2017

Maria Thomas

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Maria Thomas gained her MFA from the University of Oregon and is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her stories have appeared in Wasafiri and The Masters Review Anthology Vol VI, selected by Roxane Gay. She lives in London, where she is at work on a novel.

Photo of Maria © Nick James Photography.

London Short Story Prize Winner 2016

Foye McCarthy

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Foye McCarthy is a London-Irish writer. He recently finished an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. His main influences are Kurt Vonnegut, The Simpsons, and the way in which tea makes life bearable. He is previously unpublished as a fiction writer. He’s on Twitter @roryisconfused.

London Short Story Prize Winner 2015

Joanna Campbell

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Joanna was born in 1960 and grew up in Hayes, Middlesex, a painfully shy child with appalling eyesight. She wore the thickest, heaviest National Health glasses imaginable. Her father spent every weekend soldering the over-burdened wire arms back together.At the age of three, she taught herself to read when an insightful teacher left her alone in the classroom with a stack of books, having realised that nature had ill-equipped Joanna for running about outside at playtime. Attempts to navigate the climbing frame always ended in the sick-room. Joanna saw more of the iodine bottle than her classmates.

She has always loved to watch people and make up stories about them. She spends her life apologising for not waving back to friends who spot her in the street. It is partly because she is busy writing in her head, partly because she cannot see properly and partly because her mother taught her to always watch the ground for dogs’ mess.

She has a degree in German from Exeter University and has taught both English in Germany and German in England. She is a qualified proofreader and has also worked as a secretary, retail manager and financial adviser during the eighties, mainly because she liked having big hair and shoulder-pads. She was dreadful at all of these jobs and far better suited to the fictional worlds she has always created and occupied.

While pretending to be her husband’s secretary, she became a writer. Her prizewinning stories have been published in Writers’ Forum, Mslexia, The Lampeter Review and The New Writer magazines. She has also written for women’s magazines, including Woman’s Weekly and The People’s Friend.

Among other competition success, she won the first prize with Exeter Writers in 2011 and came second with the Scottish Association Of Writers in 2012.

She has been shortlisted six times for the Bridport Prize and three times for the Fish Prize. A collection of her short stories reached the shortlist of the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award. In 2013 she came second in the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Competition and won the local prize in the Bath Short Story Award.

Also in 2013, Joanna had stories published in both the Salt Book Of New Writing and the Bristol Short Story Award Volume Six, having launched her short-story writing career in their 2010 anthology.​

She was the winner of the 2015 London Short Story Prize with ‘Upshots’.

Joanna’s novel, ‘Tying Down The Lion’, published by Brick Lane, is available in paperback and as an e-book. Ink Tears Press published her short story collection, ‘When Planets Slip Their Tracks’, in 2016 and it has subsequently been short-listed for The Rubery International Book Award and long-listed for The Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

London Short Story Prize Winner 2014

Ruby Cowling

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Ruby was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and now lives in London. Since 2013 her short fiction has won The White Review Short Story Prize, the London Short Story Prize, the Grist POV anthology competition, the Prolitzer Prize and the Words With Jam Short Story Competition. It has also been shortlisted in contests from Glimmer Train, Short Fiction, Wasafiri and Aesthetica. Her publication credits include Lighthouse; The Letters Page; The Lonely Crowd; Unthology; the Galley Beggar Press Singles Club; I Am Because You Are (a Freight Books collection of work inspired by the theory of General Relativity); and Flamingo Land and Other Stories (Flight Press). She is Editor at Short Fiction and Associate Editor (UK) for The Writing Disorder, and for 2016-17 she was one of Spread The Word’s Associate Writers. Ruby’s first collection of short stories, This Paradise, was published in 2019 by Boiler House Press.

London Short Story Prize Winner 2013

Clare Fisher

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Clare Sita Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An avid observer of the diverse area of south London in which she grew up, Clare’s writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is her first novel, and was published by Penguin in 2017.