Young Romantics Prize

Submissions - Enter the Prize

2019’s Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Prizes marks the publication 200 years ago of the first two cantos of Lord Byron’s controversial poem Don Juan. This is
generally considered to be Byron’s masterpiece, but it caused outrage and consternation in England. Byron’s response was ‘all the bullies on earth shall not prevent me from writing what I like and publishing what I write.’

Inspired by Byron’s comic masterpiece, our poetry themes this year are ‘Wandering’ or ‘Fiery Dust’.

2019’s Chair of Judges is Professor Michael Rosen Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths University, London, former Children’s Laureate, and acclaimed author of books for both children and adults.

The panel of judges includes Jo Shapcott and Will Kemp, and Professors Simon Bainbridge and Sharon Ruston.

Total Prizes worth £5000.

Poetry Prize

A choice of poems on the theme of ‘Wandering’ or ‘Fiery Dust’. To mark the publication in 1819 of the first two cantos of Lord Byron’s controversial poem Don Juan. This is generally considered to be Byron’s masterpiece, but it caused outrage and consternation in England. Byron’s response was ‘all the bullies on earth shall not prevent me from
writing what I like and publishing what I write.’

Poems should be no more than 30 lines in length and must fit onto a single A4 page. Entries must be original works. Plagiarism will not be accepted. They must not have been published previously, either in print or online or in any other media, nor previously submitted to us.

You can enter up to 2 poems.

Essay Prize

For the first time, we are searching for 21st century William Hazlitts, Charles Lambs and Margaret Fullers, to name just three of the most celebrated critics and essayists of the age.

Entrants are invited to review a passage from Lord Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred that chimes with the poetry theme of ‘Wanderings’ (Act III, scene IV).

Manfred, Byron’s supernatural drama, was written a few months after that famous evening at the Villa Diodati which produced Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein. Byron had left England following the breakdown of his marriage and the scandals that his relationship with his half sister Augusta had precipitated. Always restless, he was now a wanderer, and the beginning of Act III, Scene IV, of his poem finds his hero, Manfred, alone in the moonlight, remembering a youthful visit to the Colosseum in Rome…

Imagine Byron was writing today – how would you respond? Reviewers should pay particular attention to subject, tone, form and language. Biographical interpretation is also welcome. Entries should be no shorter than 600 words and no longer than 1000.

You can enter up to 2 reviews.

Download Passage from Manfred, Act III, Scene IV, by Lord Byron

Conditions of Entry

Deadlines for entries 14th January 2019.

You must be 16 and no more than 18 on 1st January 2019.

Entries may be submitted from any part of the world, but must be in English.

All entries are FREE.

Poems and essays are sent to the judges anonymously so please do not put your name on your actual entry.

Full details on how to submit your entry via the website will be posted soon.

They must be in Microsoft Word format and accompanied by a completed and signed Entry Form. Download the Entry Form: here. Entries will be acknowledged.

All questions regarding the 2019 should be emailed to

Download Entry Form Submit Entry Online


  • Chair of Judges

    Professor Michael Rosen

    Michael Rosen is one of Britain’s best loved writers and performance poets for children and adults. His first degree was from Wadham College, Oxford and he went on to study for an MA and a PhD. He is currently Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London where he co-devised and teaches an MA in Children’s Literature. Michael is also a popular broadcaster and has presented BBC Radio 4’s acclaimed programme about language, “Word of Mouth” since 1998, as well as regularly presenting documentary programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3, including the Sony Gold Award-winning “On Saying Goodbye”.

    Michael has published in the region of 200 books for children and adults, including “The Sad Book” with Quentin Blake (Walker Books), “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” with Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books) - made into an animated film for Channel 4 broadcast Christmas Day 2016 - and “A Great Big Cuddle” with Chris Riddell (Walker Books). His poetry for adults includes “Don’t Mention the Children” (Smokestack) and “Selected Poems” (Penguin). Non-fiction work for adults includes “Good Ideas: How to Be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher” (John Murray), “The Disappearance of Emile Zola, Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case” (Faber), and his memoir “So They Call You Pisher!” (Verso).

    Michael writes a monthly open “letter” to the Secretary of State for Education in The Guardian where he critiques Government policy on schools from the standpoint of a parent. He visits schools, teachers’ conferences and university teacher training departments where he is in demand to give performances, workshops and keynote addresses. He also appears regularly at literary festivals all over the UK and Ireland.Michael has received several honorary awards, including degrees from the Open University, the University of Exeter, the University of London Institute of Education and the University of East London/Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. For outstanding contribution to children’s literature he received the Eleanor Farjeon Award and was Children’s Laureate 2007-2009. In recognition of his contribution to the profile of French culture in the UK, he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Michael’s Youtube channel – “Kids’ Poems and Stories with Michael Rosen” has been viewed over 45 miilion times around the world.

  • Poetry Judges

    Professor Jo Shapcott

    Professor Jo Shapcott, FRSL joined us as Poet Judge in 2017. She has won numerous awards including the National Poetry Competition (twice), the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2011). She teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

    Her books include Poems 1988-1998 (2000, reprinted 2006) consisting of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). Together with Matthew Sweeney, she edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996), an international anthology of contemporary poetry in English. Her book Tender Taxes, “her version of Rilke” was published in 2002. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award.

  • Will Kemp

    Will Kemp has won the Keats-Shelley Prize (2016), the Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition (2014), the Debut Collection Award (2010), the Envoi International (2010) and the Cinnamon Short Story Award (2015). He has also been runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Prize (2013) and the Poetry Society’s Stanza Competition (2011), and highly commended in other competitions, including the Bridport and the Plough. Will regards a commendation in the Keats-Shelley Prize 2006 as the turning point in his writing career since it spurred him on during a time of self-doubt.

    Cinnamon Press has published his collections to date, Nocturnes (2011), Lowland (2013) and The Painters Who Studied Clouds (2016), as well as his award-winning pamphlet, The Missing Girl (2015). His poems have been published in various journals, including: Ambit, Envoi, The Guardian, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, Magma, The North, Obsessed with Pipework, Orbis, Other Poetry, Poetry News, Poetry Scotland, The Rialto, The Times and Smith’s Knoll.

    Will takes over as Poetry Judge from Matthew Sweeney, who died in August 2018. To read our own appreciation of Matthew, please visit News.

  • Essay Judges

    Professor Sharon Ruston

    Professor Sharon Ruston is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, having previously taught at Bangor, Keele and Salford.

    Her research specialism concerns the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. Her first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley’s concept of vitality in his major poetry. Since then, she has worked on Mary Wollstonecraft’s interest in natural history, William Godwin’s interest in mesmerism, and Humphry Davy’s writings on the sublime. These form chapters of her most recent book, Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Professor Ruston is currently co-editing the Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle.

  • Professor Simon Bainbridge

    Professor Simon Bainbridge is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. He teaches and writes at the University of Lancaster.

    His main research interest is in the relationship between the writing of the Romantic period and its historical context. He is the author of Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Oxford University Press, 2003) and the editor of Romanticism: A Sourcebook. He has published in journals such as Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net and The Byron Journal and has written essays and entries for An Oxford Companion to The Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, and The Oxford Handbook to English Literature and Theology. Among other current projects he is working on the literature and culture of mountaineering in the Romantic period.