The English-Speaking Union

National Shakespeare Writing Competition

Evelyn Wrench Shakespeare Essay Award

•For high school students ONLY
•Appeals to advanced students
•Easily integrated into existing classes
•College-level literary analysis
  • Launches: June 9, 2022
  • Deadline: October 10, 2022
  • Announcement: November 2022
  • All dates tentative
  • Inspired by, and named after our founder, the Evelyn Wrench Shakespeare Essay Award is presented to the high school student who submits the best literary analysis of a Shakespearean play or sonnet.
  • This competition appeals to those students who excel in analytical writing and are comfortable with high rigor.
  • Meant as an incentive to those who excel at academic student writing, acceptable submissions to this competition could be responses to an assignment in an AP Literature, AP Language and Composition or advanced English Literature class.
  • Students are encouraged to submit work from their actual classes, or they may submit work written specifically for this competition.
  • Students must provide the prompt or thesis as provided by their teacher or created on their own.
  • Rubric available here.
  • Please see below for more information. 




  • $500 Cash Prize
  • Your submission featured on the ESU Website with potential for national exposure
  • A commemorative certificate 
  • Bonus: A $250 prize for the teacher of the winning student!
  • Keep visiting this page to learn more!

Rules of the competition:

  • All essays must be double-spaced, typed in 12 point font. 
  • Essays may be 3-5 pages, or 600-1250 words.
  • Quotes from the play, soliloquy, or sonnet must be used as evidence and these should be cited with Act, scene, and line #. 
  • Scholars must provide a References Page at the end of their essay with a citation for the edition of the Shakespeare play or publication of sonnets.
  • Please do not conduct research into what other scholars have said about the literature – we want to hear your thoughts, not someone else's.
  • Any evidence of plagiarism will result in disqualification.  Furthermore, your teacher will be prevented from submitting entries for the next three years.
  • Students may write about any play, soliloquy, or sonnet.  
  • Their literary analysis should focus on something specific, such as one theme or symbol, a character or comparison of characters, an exploration of gender roles or race or class distinctions, or students may explicate a soliloquy, monologue, or a sonnet.  Topics are not limited to those stated; these are merely examples.  
  • Any prompt is acceptable so long as it stimulates deep thought and results in close reading and analysis of the text.  We do not believe that there is only one way to interpret a text but will credit all responses so long as students can support their thesis with textual evidence.
  • Be sure to carefully review the rubric available here and in the Teacher's Resources.