Bedford International Writing Competition


The 2019 Short Story and Poetry Competitions is open for entries from today until 31st October 2019. This is our seventh year of running competitions and we are looking forward to reading the stories and poems that you will be sending in.

We are always on the look out for new ways to attract entries and this year we are introducing a new prize in the Short Story Competition which is specifically aimed at writers who are 30 years or less.

If you are aged between 17 and 30 on 1st May 2019, then you automatically qualify for a chance to win the "Young Writers' Prize", but please ensure that you enter your age group on the entry form. The prizewinner will receive £100 and will be published in the 2019 anthology.

Whether or not you qualify for the "Young Writers' Prize" the first second and third prizes on offer to entrants in both competitions are £500, £150 and £100. If you are a resident of Bedford, your poem or short story will be separately judged, and you may be deemed to have won the Bedford Prize of £100 which once again has been kindly donated by the Harpur Trust. All shortlisted and prizewinning stories and poems will be published in the 2019 anthology.

For any of you who are new to our competitions and are uncertain whether you should enter, you may find it useful to obtain a copy of the anthology of shortlisted stories and poems. There is an anthology for each year that we have been running and these can be purchased from Amazon. Scroll down this page for the 2018 stories and poems. For previous years click on Archive and scroll to the particular year.

2019 Competition

2019 Competition – Judges

Short Story Competition Judge

Eleanor Dryden

Eleanor is a respected Editor and publisher. After working as publishing director of Avon, the commercial fiction arm of HarperCollins, she moved to Bonnier Zaffre where she spearheaded the commercial women's fiction and reading group list and she published bestselling authors Louise Pentland, Lydia Syson, Patricia Wilson and saga brand Rosie Goodwin Publishing where she had overall responsibility for women's fiction.

Other authors she has worked with include Jeffrey Archer, Angela Clarke and Kate Mosse.

In April this year she joined Headline Review imprint, home to authors Victoria Hislop, Jill Mansell and Alison Weir, as leader of their commercial fiction team.

Eleanor is also the co-founder of the Feminist Book Society, a monthly get-together that hosts active panels about feminism with authors and industry insiders.

Poetry Competition Judge

Nick Everett

Nick Everett is founder and co-editor of New Walk Editions poetry pamphlets. He teaches poetry writing and contemporary poetry at the University of Leicester.

Bedford Prize Short Story Judge

Peter Laws

Peter Laws is an author, journalist, YouTube horror host and ordained church minister. He writes a monthly column in The Fortean Times magazine and hosts the podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot which explores the deeper themes of scary culture. His books include the non fiction book The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death & Gore that seeks to explain (and defend) the lure of the morbid. It was published by ICON in 2018. He is also the creator of the popular series of horror/ crime fiction novels featuring Matt Hunter, an atheist ex-vicar turned academic who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. Purged, Unleashed and Severed are published by ALLISON AND BUSBY, 2017,18,19. Possessed, the fourth in the series, will be released in shops in early 2020.

Young Person's Short Story Prize Judge

Kate Nash

Having gained experience as an author, publisher, publicist and marketer, Kate has seen every side of publishing and has used her background to set up her own literary agency so she could do "the best job in publishing". Kate's reading tastes - from romance to thrillers - are highly commercial.

Kate has a degree in History (BA Hons.) from the University of York and later gained distinction with two undergraduate modules in Creative Writing and Literature from the Open University. She also holds a postgraduate certificate from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Kate enjoys travel, wine, the theatre and fine art. She is also a trustee of the Catholic Truth Society (CTS), a 150-year-old charity who are the UK publishers to the Holy See.

Kate Nash is listed 20th in UK Fiction by Publishers Marketplace, based on number of deals made (Feb 2017). Kate was named as The Bookseller Rising Star in 2018.

Find out more about Kate Nash from her website


2018 Anthology

Obtain a copy from Amazon



For previous competitions from 2018 back to 2014 go to Archive

Our Patrons

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is a best-selling author of atmospheric, psychological thrillers and her poetry is studied for exams. In September 2015 BWC invited her to be interviewed before a live audience at the Trinity Theatre, Bedford. She entertained us with her recollections of how she became a successful writer and shared some of her novel-writing secrets.

Ruth Hogan

Ruth Hogan was the 2017 short story competition judge and has been a regular supporter of the competition since its start. Being a local author she represents the cultural reputation of Bedford which the BIWC aims to promote. Having spent her early working life in local government she wrote stories as part of her therapy while recovering from cancer. Her success with her first published novel in 2017 is testament to her never giving up hope of becoming a best-selling author and is a fine example to all writers with similar ambitions.

Toby Litt

Toby Litt is an English writer and academic in the Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London. He has several publications to his name both novels and collections of short stories. Born in Ampthill and a former pupil of Bedford Modern School. In 2016 he was the judge of the BIWC Short Story Competition.

Ian McEwen

Ian McEwen was the judge for the 2016 Poetry Competition. He has had his poems published in a variety of magazines as well as producing a pamphlet, The Stammering Man and his first full collection in book form, Intermittent Beings. He is interested in opportunities to broaden the practice and appreciation of poetry, through readings, workshops or residencies.

Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted No.1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She's won the Readers' Best Romantic Novel award, the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated on several other occasions, including for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.
She is a former judge of the Writers' Forum competitions.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing guides and courses have appeared all over the world.

Margaret Norwich

Margaret Norwich was the judge of the Bedford Prize in 2015 and 2016. She studied liberal arts at Vassar College, New York and then came over to England to read English at Girton College, Cambridge. As well as working in publishing and the voluntary sector, Margaret lectured for many years on English Language and Literature at De Montfort and Cranfield Universities. American born, she now regards herself a true Bedfordian.

Leigh Russell

Leigh Russell is a best-selling crime novelist. Her association with the BIWC began in 2014 when the competition went 'nternational'. She has been the judge for the 2014 and the 2015 competitions. We are extremely grateful for the encouragement that she has given us and gives to writers of all abilities.


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