The Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition was founded by Bridport Arts Centre in 1973 and has steadily grown in stature and prestige. Right from the start the competition attracted entries from all parts of the UK and from overseas. Today many thousands of entries are received from over 80 countries worldwide.
The prize money and entry fees have risen over the years and now the first prize in the poetry and short story categories is £5,000, second prize £1,000 and third prize £500. An additional 10 highly commended prizes (in both each categories) of £100 each are awarded. In 2010 a new category for flash fiction was introduced with a first prize of £1000, second prize of £500, third prize of £250 and three highly commended prizes of £100 each.
In 2014 the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel, named in honour of our founder was established. This award is run in conjunction with partners The Literary Consultancy (TLC) and A.M. Heath Literary Agents. A first prize is offered of £1,000 for the winner plus up to a year's mentoring from TLC. The runner up receives £500 and three shortlisted writers receive £100.
The entry fees for 2017 are: £8 per flash fiction / £9 per poem / £10 per story / £20 per novel.
The top four poems are entered for the Forward Prize for Poetry (Best Single Poem), an award not open to the general public.
The top 13 stories (British citizens only) are submitted to the National Short Story Prize and the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.
The Dorset Award is a prize (first awarded in 2007) specifically for Dorset writers. Thanks to the sponsorship of The Book Shop, of Bridport, £100 and a specially commissioned sculpture is to be won for the highest placed Dorset writer in the Bridport Prize each year.
In 2001 the Bridport Prize became the first competition to offer writers the opportunity to submit their entry online, receiving 865 entries that year. 2011 saw 11440 entries submitted online - 30% of which were from overseas. Since 2009 the number of people using the online service has exceeded the number sending by post.
In 2006 Fay Weldon agreed to become Patron of the Bridport and notable previous judges include Margaret Drabble, Jo Shapcott, Rose Tremain, U A Fanthorpe, Andrew Motion, Lavinia Greenlaw, Jane Gardam, Don Paterson, Tracey Chevalier, Ali Smith and Jackie Kay.
In many cases a win in the Bridport Prize has led to further success stories and helped to launch new writers. Kate Atkinson (a short story winner in 1990) said that it was very important, confirming that she had found her "voice". Her short story went on to become the first chapter of her novel, "Behind the Scenes at the Museum", winner of the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. She returned to judge the Short Story section in 2001.
Other noteworthy names include Helen Dunmore (also a 1990 winner) whose "Spell of Winter" won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996; Tobias Hill, a winner in both categories (poetry 1994, short story 1996) and Kathryn Simmonds, a winner in 2005, who won the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection..