Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2016-17

2016-17 Neil Gunn Writing Competition: extended deadline for primary school entries

2016-17 Neil Gunn Writing Competition: now closed to entries from adults and secondary school pupils. The extended deadline for primary schools is Wednesday 05 April 2017.

This biennial competition is organised by The Neil Gunn Trust in partnership with High Life Highland.  We are especially delighted that the lead judge for this, the 14th competition, is the author Michel Faber, as he is himself a former winner of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition.

The competition has 4 sections – Adult Short Story and Adult Poetry are open to writers worldwide; the Secondary (S3-S6) and Primary (P5-P7) Schools sections are open to pupils attending Highland Council schools.  All sections of the competition are now open following their launch at the Neil Gunn Lecture on Thursday 15th September 2016. The entry rules which include full details of submission and judging and the entry forms for each section are available by following the links on this page.  Alternatively they are available from any High Life Highland Library.

Download Links

Please download the PDF file to your computer and use the Adobe ‘Fill and Sign’ link to complete the form in Adobe Reader.


For all sections, the themes are quotes from Neil Gunn’s writing.

Adult Poetry and Short Story sections

This year there is a choice of two themes in the adult sections.

  1. “Wrong is a difficult word” (Young Art and Old Hector)
  2. “Knowledge is high in the head, but the salmon of wisdom swims deep” (The Green Isle of the Great Deep)

Writers worldwide are invited to choose one of the themes and interpret it in any way they wish – the entries do not have to be set in Scotland or during the time when Neil Gunn himself was writing.

Secondary schools (S3-S6)

“He loved the darkness.” (Highland River)

Primary schools (P5-P7)

“He was wakened by a loud knocking at the door.”  (The Well at the World’s End)

Closing date

The closing date for the adult and secondary school sections of the competition was Friday 03 March 2017. The extended closing date for the primary school section is Wednesday 05 April 2017. Winners will be notified by mid-May and the award ceremony will be held in Dingwall on Friday16 June 2017.

Contact for queries

Charlotte Macarthur, High Life Highland and The Neil Gunn Trust

Email (preferred): [email protected] Tel: 01479 841851

Address for postal queries: Charlotte Macarthur, Neil Gunn Writing Competition, Library Support Unit, 31a Harbour Rd, INVERNESS, Scotland, IV1 1UA

The winning entries from past Neil Gunn Writing Competitions are available on the Am Baile website


We gratefully acknowledge sponsorship and donations from the following organisations:

The Lydia Michael Trust; The Highland Council Dingwall & Seaforth Ward Councillors; Dr David Summers’ Charitable Trust; GlenWyvis Distillery; Mrs Rhoda Dunbar

High Life Highland The Highland Council