The Essay Prize entry requirements


The Mahler & LeWitt Studios are established around the former studios of Anna Mahler and Sol LeWitt in Spoleto, Italy. The residency programme provides a focused and stimulating environment for artists, curators and writers to develop new ways of working in dialogue with peers and the unique cultural heritage of the region. For more information please visit


Joanna Biggs is a writer and editor at Harper’s and co-founder of Silver Press. Her book about the way we work, All Day Long, was published by Serpent’s Tail in 2015. Her second book, A Life of One’s Own, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in May 2023.

Brian Dillon is a writer and critic. His books include Suppose a Sentence (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2020), Essayism (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017), The Great Explosion (Penguin, 2015), Objects in This Mirror: Essays (Sternberg Press, 2014), Sanctuary (Sternberg Press, 2011), Tormented Hope (Penguin, 2009) and In the Dark Room (Penguin, 2005; Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018). He teaches creative writing at the Queen Mary. Affinities, a book about the intimate and abstract pleasures of reading and looking, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in February 2023.

Joanna Kavenna is the author of The Ice Museum (Viking, 2006), Inglorious (Faber & Faber, 2007), The Birth of Love (Faber & Faber, 2011), Come to the Edge (riverrun, 2012), A Field Guide to Reality (riverrun, 2017) and Zed (Faber & Faber, 2019). Her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Guardian, Observer, Telegraph, Spectator, London Review of Books and New York Times and she has held writing fellowships at St Antony’s College Oxford and St John’s College Cambridge. In 2011 she was named as one of the Telegraph’s 20 Writers Under 40 and in 2013 was listed as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Oxfordshire.

Max Porter is the author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers (Faber & Faber, 2016), winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize; Lanny (Faber & Faber, 2019), longlisted for the Booker Prize; and an essay, The Death of Francis Bacon (Faber & Faber, 2021). His latest novel, Shy, was published in April 2023 by Faber & Faber.

Jacques Testard is the publisher of Fitzcarraldo Editions and a founding editor of The White Review.


Please read these eligibility and entry rules carefully before submitting. Submission of an entry is taken as acceptance of the entry rules. For any queries not covered below, please email [email protected].

  1. The competition is open to unpublished writers residing in Great Britain and Ireland only.
  2. Entrants should submit a proposal for a book-length essay (over 25,000 words) to [email protected]. The proposal itself should be no longer than 5,000 words. Entrants may also submit a separate writing sample of up to 5,000 words. Proposals and samples should be double-spaced, 12pt.
  3. Each proposal should outline the subject matter, scope, style and structure of the proposed essay, and include a word count, delivery date and biographical note.
  4. The proposals must be original, not previously submitted to a publisher. The writing sample may be previously published work.
  5. Entries can also be sent by post to Fitzcarraldo Editions, A103, 8-12 Creekside, London SE8 3DX.
  6. Only submissions received by email or by post by midnight on 13 March 2023 (GMT) will be considered.
  7. Entries that are incomplete, are corrupted or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  8. The entry must be the entrant’s own original creation and must not infringe upon the right or copyright of any person or entity.
  9. Co-authored entries will not be accepted.
  10. Writers who have existing contracts, or who have previously held contracts, with publishers for books of fiction or non-fiction are not eligible to enter.
  11. Writers who have published writing (fiction or non-fiction) in magazines and journals are eligible to enter.
  12. Writers who have published books of poetry are eligible to enter.
  13. Writers may submit only one proposal per iteration of the prize.
  14. The proposed essay must be written in English (no translations).
  15. Submissions must be made by the author of the proposal.
  16. There are no age restrictions.
  17. When submitting, please include a short covering letter including your contact details, your name and the title of your proposed essay. The covering letter should be in the same document as your submission. Entrants should also submit a separate one-page cover letter on how they propose to use the residency at the Mahler-LeWitt Studios.
  18. Submissions from writers residing outside of Great Britain and Ireland will not be considered.
  19. All submissions should include page numbers.
  20. The essay must be original and should not have been previously published anywhere in full or in part. Published work is taken to mean published in any printed, publicly accessible form, e.g. anthology, magazine, newspaper. It is also taken to mean published online, with the exception of personal blogs and personal websites.
  21. A meeting will be organised with all shortlisted writers to discuss their book proposal before the award of the prize.
  22. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted.
  23. No editorial feedback will be provided to unsuccessful entrants.
  24. The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging process.
  25. Fitzcarraldo Editions will have the exclusive right to publish the winning essay once it has been written, but reserves the right not to publish.
  26. Only submissions which meet all Terms and Conditions will be considered.
  27. By entering this competition, each entrant agrees to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.