BBC Young Writers’ Award

BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is now closed for another year. 

For up to date information on the announcement of the winner please head to:


The information below is for reference only:

At First Story, we believe that everyone’s voices and stories are important. Now, you have the chance to share your story with the whole of the UK. If you’re a writer aged 14-18, submit your writing to the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, and if your piece is shortlisted you could have your writing broadcast on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks and published in an anthology. The winner will also receive a mentoring session with an author! Full terms and conditions can be found here:

The deadline for entries is 9 a.m. (GMT) Monday 25th March 2019.

‘At First Story, we believe passionately in the value of creative writing for young people. We know that writing can be a source not just of pleasure but also of power. We urge young people across the country to enter their short stories for the Young Writers’ Award 2019. And, on the basis that a writer is just a reader inside-out, we encourage young people to get involved in the Student Critics’ Award too, engaging with and reflecting on stories shortlisted for the National Short Story Award 2019. Parents, teachers and librarians, please help us reach as many young writers and readers as possible!’ – William Fiennes, Co-Founder of First Story

Keen to enter but need some inspiration to get warmed up? Check out this exercise which uses soundscapes, or this freewrite exercise, or delve into the treasure trove that is the Cambridge Digital Library and try these exercises devised by YWA judge Anthony Cartwright. Or head over to the National Writing Day website which has a whole load more exercises for you to try.

The winner of the 2018 Young Writers’ Award was 17-year-old Davina Bacon for her ‘compassionate’ and ‘intelligent’ story ‘Under a Deep Blue Sky’, which you can read here. The previous winners are Brennig Davies for ‘Skinning‘, Lizzie Freestone for ‘Ode to a Boy Musician’   and 2017 winner, Elizabeth Ryder for ‘The Roses

The judging panel for the award will be chaired by Katie Thistleton, presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Live Hacks and and author of Dear Katie: Real Problems, Real Advice. Katie will be joined on the judging panel by former teacher and Betty Trask Award winner, Anthony Cartwright; Waterstones Prize and YA Bookseller Prize winning-YA writer, Patrice Lawrence; winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave; and writer, rapper and world-record breaking human beatboxer, Testament.

In addition, the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA) launches today and calls for applications. 2018 saw 600 16 – 18-year-old students from 40 schools flex their critical muscles as they read, discussed and critiqued the five shortlisted NSSA stories. For 2019, this activity is being extended to encourage wider community link-ups between schools, colleges, libraries and bookshops around the UK.

‘I am so excited to be chairing the BBC Young Writers Award for the second year in a row. Last year I was blown away with the submissions, I think we found some of the best future writers whilst shortlisting and learnt a lot about what young people care about at the moment. I cannot wait to read the young people’s stories this year. As a keen writer myself, this is the sort of competition I would have jumped at the chance to enter.’ – Katie Thistleton, Chair of the 2019 BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel.