HNS First Chapters Competition

The Historical Novel Society will be offering a First Chapters Competition in concurrence with the 2024 HNS UK Conference, which will be held 6-8 September 2024 at Dartington Hall in Devon, England.

Competition opening date: 16 November 2023
Competition closing date: 15 February 2024
Entry Fee: £30 (HNS members); £40 (non-members)

For full submission guidelines, rules, details of prizes, judging criteria, and the entry form, please visit the First Chapters Competition web page on the HNS UK Conference website.

Though the awards will be presented at the conference, the competition is open to anyone, anywhere – not only conference attendees. Entries are restricted to one per person, and co-authors are welcome.

The competition, which looks to recognise and promote excellence in storytelling and the craft of historical fiction, is for the first three chapters of a full-length novel (80,000 words minimum) that has not been previously published in any form. Entries will be accepted in the following categories:

  • Historical Fiction Ancient to 16th century
  • Historical Fiction 17th century to 19th  century
  • Historical Fiction 20th century
  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Crime
  • Biographical Historical Fiction
  • Historical Adventure
  • Historical Fantasy, Timeslip, Alternate History
  • Children’s & Young Adult Historical Fiction



  • Overall Winner: £1,000, competition trophy, and feedback from the three final judges
  • Category Winners (one for each category, 9 total): £500 and an HNS UK Conference ticket


Category Short Lists will be announced in May 2024, with Category Winners announced in June.

The Overall Winner will be announced at the conference gala dinner on 7 September 2024. Category Winners will also be recognized with certificates at the gala.

Historical Novels Review magazine’s book reviewers will assess the first round of the competition, with Historical Novels Review editors assessing the second round. The Overall Winner will be judged by novelist Kate Quinn; agent Lisa Highton (Jenny Brown Associates); and author, bookseller, and publisher Jane Johnson.

|   Visit the First Chapters Competition web page  |