H.E. Bates Short Story Competition

** Results of previous competitions: 20132014, and 2015. **

The long-running H.E. Bates Short Story Competition usually opens in June with a 30th November deadline, and for 2015 had me as Head Judge!

Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE (1905–74), better known as H. E. Bates, was an English writer and author. His best-known works include Love for LydiaThe Darling Buds of May, (starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Pam Ferris amongst others) and My Uncle Silas. Bates was born on May 16, 1905 in RushdenNorthamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving school, he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk.

Run by the Northampton Writers Group, the details of the H.E. Bates competition are on http://www.hebatescompetition.org.uk (with the rules / entry details at http://www.hebatescompetition.org.uk/index3.asp) and below:

  • H.E. Bates rulesNB. The 2016 details haven’t been announced yet (and won’t until the summer) but these are from 2015…
  • Write a short story on any theme or genre of your choice.
  • Entries must be no longer than 2,000 words in length. Longer stories will be disqualified. There is no minimum but the story must have a start, middle and end.
  • Email / postal entries accepted.
  • The competition is open to all writers of any age, from anywhere in the world.
  • 1st Prize £500; 2nd Prize £100; 3rd Prize £50.
  • Special prize for the best story written by a Northamptonshire writer £50 (not awarded if the story has won 1st, 2nd or 3rd Prize).
  • The entry fee is £6 for the first story submitted, two stories for £10 (£5 for each subsequent story). Entrants are invited to submit as many stories as they wish.
  • The initial judging panel will comprise members of the Northampton Writers’ Group.
  • I (Morgen Bailey) was the Head Judge for 2015. Previous judges have included Jane Wenham-Jones (2014), Della Galton (2013), Stephen Booth (2012), Katie Fforde (2011), Sue Moorcroft (2010), and Judith Allnatt.
  • The competition usually opens in June with a closing date for entries of midnight (UK time) 30th November.
  • Prizes for the 2016 competition will likely be awarded at a prize-giving ceremony January / February 2017 at The Quaker Meeting House, Northampton. (The 2015 competition was 4th Feb 2016, 7.30pm, at that venue.)

* * *

Nick, NWG’s Competition Secretary, receives your stories, removes your names then distributes them to the group’s members who then mark the stories (out of 10). The Head Judge will be sent the top ten stories to pick the winning three. If the three aren’t Northamptonshire-based, he / she will pick another story from the selection of top Northants entries for the winner of that category.

The Northampton Writers’ Group, a critique group mostly, meets every first and third Thursday night in central Northampton, England – do email Nick if you’re local and are interested in joining. More details on Writing Groups.



34 thoughts on “H.E. Bates Short Story Competition

  1. morgenbailey says:

    Hi Tam. I’ll check for you. As soon as Nick (our Competition Secretary) puts them on the group’s site I’ll put them on here. The winning entries won’t be until after the 11th as they’re not announced until the prize-giving but hopefully the other information will be available soon.


  2. Rosa Johnson says:

    You have been talking about Northampton’s critique group. I live on the South Coast so no chance of meeting up with you there but please can you give us -WordWrights in Titchfield- a few tips on how to organise our sessions. We have about 8 members critiquing chapters of novels we are writing.
    best wishes and many thanks, Morgen,


  3. Rosa Johnson says:

    Thank you Morgen. I think we are observing all your suggestins but i didn’t explain ours is rather a different set up. The crits always meet in someone’s home. Currently we are trying to have chapters/or parts of chapters up to 2000 words. We circulate them by e-mail Everyone has then had a chance to read all the pieces.
    We write notes to ourselves or proper critiques to the author and get a discussion going on every piece submitted. We need a time keeper for this or some people monopolise and others don’t get a look in. We think/hope our mastery of the system will improve with practise.
    Any suggetions you would like to make would be well received.

    thanks a lot,


    • morgenbailey says:

      Thanks, Rosa. I know of another group who works this way and I’ve added this to a new bullet point:

      How to split up the time? The fairest way is to divide the time you have by the number of members attending. That said, a poem would usually take less time to feedback on than a novel extract (and I’d recommend limiting those to 2,000 words a piece) so if you make a list of members’ contributions in advance, you can start with the shorter pieces and see what time you have left for longer pieces. I don’t recommend always leaving the novelists until last though because they will, rightly, feel less important. You may want to start with reading out information e.g. competitions etc.and if you have time, have a ten-minute nature / refreshment break midway.

      Some writing groups email their writing in advance so that members can prepare their feedback and either email back then discuss generally or specifically on the evening. This is a great idea for saving time during the meeting especially where there are a large number of members, and helps those members who are unable to attend all the meetings. The meetings can then be split time-wise equally as the extracts don’t need to be read out but each member can have a fairer time for feedback. Any time remaining can then be spent writing on the spot (see Ideas for examples) or discussions for how the writers can develop their novels ongoing (so having synopses handy would be useful).


  4. fiona says:

    I love writing so much but am so worried about other people reading my work. I have let several years of competitions pass me by. How may I overcome this angst? Do you offer feedback?


    • Rosa Johnson says:

      Dear Fiona, I too have had this feeling when reading out work in our writing group. It is expected of everyone who becomes a member. It is all part of the mutual support writing groups offer.

      I write more humorous stories and poetry than serious, and over a period of time I began to enjoy the responses of my colleagues. This encouraged me to enter competitions because if judges enjoyed my work they would comment, and in some cases I found my name on the long list. Short lists bring even more pleasure. On the other hand if I didn’t hear anything further I was able to forget my work had been read (and probably not enjoyed) by people I didn’t know.. It didn’t matter too much.

      Some competitions have an aura which even if one doesn’t score penetrates and a feeling of friendliness permeates. Northampton is one of these and I have entered the competition for several years. I think I was once shortlisted in the past.This year when I achieved a third place in the HEBates competition the friendliness of the group manifested itself in a mound of letters of congratulations from people I had never met but who had enjoyed my story arrived in my inbox.

      This is a wonderful feeling and if you take your courage in both hands Fiona, it will happen to you. You love writing and that love will get you there. I am not what anyone would call a successful writer but I am still trying and I hope when you are 77 you will still be trying too.

      Good wishes and good luck with your efforts. Your writing friends want to read your work and so do judges up and down the land. Writers are lovely people so communicate with them through your writing and you will succeed. Sincerely and with love, Rosa.


      • morgenbailey says:

        Absolutely, Rosa. Although it’s a tough industry in which to make money, it’s probably why everyone else is so supportive. I liken us to learner drivers; once we’ve passed, we appreciate how much dedication it takes but it feels great when you have that sense of achievement.


  5. Elaine McKay says:

    Hi, this is a great blog! Thank you for the information re the competition. May I ask, if a story has been on a blog, would the panel consider it published, or can it still be entered into the competition?


    • morgenbailey says:

      Thank you, Elaine. Unfortunately anything posted online is deemed published, regardless of the outlet, because it’s in the public domain. Of course few competitions will check but there’s always the risk that they will, and even if it’s deleted (e.g. only on the website for a year, in the case of some competitions), it’ll likely still appear in Google-type searches even if the page it links to is no longer valid.


  6. Deborah says:

    Hi Morgen, hope you’re well :o)
    I was just wondering if you could help… It says on the competition site that if you send in an entry via email, you’ll be sent an invoice so that you can pay. I sent a story in about a week ago and haven’t received one yet… do they send them out later on, or something?


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