Write Your Own Historical Fiction Competition 2024

The Historical Association Historical Fiction Prize

Published: 11th December 2023

Get your pupils to bring the past to life

Entries to the 2024 competition are now closed. 

Each year we are so impressed by the ever increasing number and standard of entries we receive around such a wide range of historical periods and settings. You can take a look at some of last year’s winning entries here.

Unleash the creativity of your pupils through the Write Your Own Historical Fiction Competition. This competition invites pupils in years 5 to 9 to craft their historical and English fiction writing skills.

Winning students will each receive a book token worth £25 and a specially designed commemorative notebook for writing future stories. Schools will receive a year’s FREE subscription to the HA.

  1. Across Years 5 and 6 there will be two prizes for the best individual story. Individual stories indicate a story written by an individual student who is part of a whole class or year group who are all writing historical stories.
  2. Across Years 7, 8 and 9 there will be three prizes for the best individual story.
  3. There is also a prize for the best fictional historical character in a convincing historical setting. Three prizes will be on offer here across all year groups.

*While we encourage and accept stories from a wide variety of periods and settings, we recognise that some periods and topics carry sensitivities that do not lend themselves easily to fictionalised accounts.

What are the judges looking for?

Stories in each category are shortlisted by panels of student readers where possible. The shortlist is then judged by our primary and secondary expert panels. Judges are looking for:

  • Historical accuracy – even down to the choice of names characters are given and any props additional to the historical setting. Research is key!
  • A riveting read with a good plot!
  • A convincing story  i.e. is it plausible that these events and/or this character could have existed at the time?
  • Use of historical knowledge to feed the plot, context and character
  • Effective use of historical vocabulary and literary conventions, including where dialogue is included in the story
  • Creative and interesting perspectives of storytelling. In the past we have received an entry telling the story of a siege from the perspective of the castle!
  • We recommend a minimum story length of 400 words and a maximum of 3500 words. We regret that entries that go over this word limit may not be considered.

Entries must be received by midnight on Friday 7 June 2024

All entries must be submitted electronically using the editable entry form below. Please ensure that all fields are completed and that completed forms and entries are sent as one document via email to olivia.dent@history.org.uk.

Looking for inspiration?

If you are looking for inspiration, don’t forget to take a look at some of the books listed in our Young Quills historical fiction award. You can find the 2023 winners here however it's worth noting that in a departure from our normal rules, 2023 entries were subject to an imposed theme of coronations. Previous Quills winner Tony Bradman ran two dedicated webinars to support and equip teachers working on the competition with pupils, and the recordings are available to view here and here. Tony Bradman has also written a teachers' guide to using and writing historical fiction in the classroom, available to download here (PDF).

Don’t forget to also download the written supportive guidance below.

Entry rules

  1. Entries are free.
  2. Entry is open internationally to all pupils aged 9-14 (UK Years 5-9) in the 2023/4 academic year ending August 31 2024. A pupil who falls outside of these upper and lower age ranges between 1 September 2023 and 31 August 2024 will not be eligible.  
  3. Entries must be submitted by a teacher on behalf of a school or college as part of a whole class or school teaching unit. The teacher should operate an internal school or class competition and then submit up to a maximum of the 5 best entries for consideration by our judges. A maximum of 5 entries per institution will be allowed. 
  4. Entries may be word-processed or handwritten, but must be legible. If handwritten, entries must be scanned in order to complete the electronic entry process. 
  5. Each entry must be accompanied by a completed electronic entry form and submitted together. 
  6. The story may be illustrated.
  7. We regret that we will be unable to return entries or respond to individual queries concerning the progress of entries. Please keep an eye on the website for information on winners. 
  8. Each entry must have been fully completed with all required information on the electronic entry form supplied along with the entry (see point 5). Failure to complete all sections may result in the entry being discounted. We also require an entry form for each individual entry and regret that we cannot accept one entry form covering all entries from a single school. 
  9. Each entry must be submitted by an individual pupil. We regret that we cannot accept group entries. 
  10. Entries must be received by 12pm (midnight) on 7 June 2024 and all queries should be addressed to Olivia Dent on olivia.dent@history.org.uk 
  11. The results of the competition will be posted on the Historical Association website: www.history.org.uk 
  12. Prize winners will be notified in writing in September/October 2024 and will receive their prizes by post. If the entrant is leaving the school at the end of the academic year, please also supply a parental/carer contact so that we may get in touch about their award. Part of the award is a year’s free HA membership for the school. In the case that the entrant has left the school, the HA membership will go to the school they attended when they entered the competition and the individual prize will be forwarded to the entrant by the HA.
  13. All entries must adhere to the lower word limit of 400 words and the upper word limit of 3500 words.
  14. Prizes for winners will consist of a specially designed notebook plus £25 and HA membership for the school. Winning entries may be published on the HA website and journals in their entirety, in part or as edited versions. Runners up will receive an HA goody bag. All winners and runners up will receive a certificate. We reserve the right to substitute prizes for equivalents where it is necessary. 

Winners will be announced by the end of October 2024.