The Crime Writers’ Association

The Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition

The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it. Margery Allingham

Every year since 2014, the CWA and the Margery Allingham Society have jointly held an international competition for a short story of up to 3,500 words.

Our mission is to find the best unpublished short mystery, and not only that, but one which fits into Golden Age crime writer Margery Allingham’s definition of what makes a great story.

Entries are invited from all writers, published or unpublished, writing in English.


2022 winner

Scott Hunter Locked In

Only able to see and hear, with communication limited to blinks or finger-taps, Helen aged 101 is at the mercy of a killer. A bed-bound stroke victim, she still has use of her brain and elegantly turns circumstances in her favour.

The judges felt this was a wholly original story beautifully carried through.

Congratulations to Scott and commiserations to the other shortlisted entrants.

2022 shortlist

2022 longlist


Black Tie for MurderCraig Bowlsby
Secrets in the Family AtticHannah Brown
Wheeling and DealingCarey Coombs
Say CheeseWilliam Crotty
UnfoundMary-Jane Harbottle
The Exceptional Death of Sir Thaddeus ParkerTom Holroyd
Locked InScott Hunter
The Missing PieceDeborah Mantle
A Face for MurderJudith O’Reilly
Weights and BiasesAlexandre Sadeghi
Bad TimingPaul Spencer
Boxed InMark Thielman

The 2023 Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition will open in autumn 2022.

For details of 2022 longlist, shortlist and winner announcements, see Entry Process.

Win fantastic prizes

The winner receives a generous cash prize of £500 plus two weekend passes to CrimeFest 2023.

Entries now closed

Closing date: 6pm GMT Monday 28 February 2022.

Promote the competition

Help us champion short stories and crime writers by spreading the word.
Download an A5 PDF flyer here.

How to write a winning story

We asked Martin Edwards, the inaugural winner of the CWA/Margery Allingham Short Story competition for 6 great tips and here they are:

Find out more about Martin here and about Crafting Crime, his online crime-writing course here.

The submission process

The international Margery Allingham Short Mystery Prize is a competition open to all – both published and unpublished authors from all over the world – and is for short stories of up to 3,500 words. All that we ask is that the story has not been previously published anywhere, or shortlisted for this competition.

Please follow Margery’s definition of a mystery to be in with the best of chance of winning the prize.

“The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”

The way a submitted story matches this definition is awarded greater weighting in the scoring than any other criteria.

Read winning stories


Please read all terms carefully before submitting your entry. Please pay attention the Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery and the chronology it outlines.

Submission of an entry is taken as acceptance of all the terms and conditions of entry.

Incomplete entry forms and short stories not submitted in accordance with these terms and conditions will not be eligible for consideration.

Stories submitted but not paid for are also not eligible. The entry fee is £12 and this should be paid via PayPal.


Proof of any of the following conditions of eligibility may be requested from entrants at any time and will be checked at the short list stage.

  1. This award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 3,500 words by an author aged 18 years or over on 1 January of the competition year.
  2. Entries must be submitted in English but the author does not need to be resident in the United Kingdom. Translations of short stories originally published in languages other than English are not eligible.
  3. Entries will not be eligible where the author is a member of the judging panel, anyone involved in the administration of this award or a close family relative of any such person.
  4. The submitted story must not have been previously published on any platform including digital.
  5. A story submitted will not be eligible if the author dies prior to 1 January of the competition year.


  1. Entries may only be submitted online via the specific entry form on the CWA website ( Entries submitted in any other form will not be accepted.
  2. Entries may be submitted from 1 October to 6pm GMT 28 February 2022. Entries submitted after that time will not be accepted. Entries may be submitted by the author, his/her publisher or his/her agent.
  3. Although the entries will be assessed anonymously, they must be submitted in the author’s own name.
  4. The submission of an author’s work by the publisher/agent will be taken as agreement by the author that he/she is willing for the submitted work to be considered and to comply with these terms and conditions.
  5. Authors may only enter individually, not as part of a team.
  6. The story submitted must be (and by submission is warranted by the authors and accepted by the CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition to be) original, fictional and entirely the author’s own work. It must not infringe the copyright or any other rights of any third party and not be libellous, unlawful or defamatory of any living person or corporate body.
  7. Entry must be accompanied by the fee of £12, payable by PayPal. If the PayPal account name and the name of the competition entrant are different, payees should indicate when making payment the entrant’s name and the title of the story.


Margery Allingham remarked that: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”

  1. The story must not exceed 3,500 words.
  2. The story may be on any theme but must satisfy the Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery (above) and its chronology.
  3. The format of the story must adhere to the following rules:
    * The name of the author must not appear anywhere within the story
    * The name of the story and word count (excluding title) to be included within the header on every page.
  4. We prefer stories to be typed in an easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman and in no smaller than 11pt. We also prefer page numbers to appear, but not adhering to these recommendations will not disqualify the entry.
  5. One writer can enter any number of stories provided each is accompanied by the entrance fee. However, no more than one story by the same writer can be longlisted.
  6. Stories which previously have been shortlisted are not eligible for re-entry, even if they have been substantially revised.


  1. Entries will be judged anonymously; and the name of the author will not be linked to the story/made available to either the initial readers or the judges.
  2. The judges of the CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition will be looking for what they think is the best entry on the basis of quality and originality of prose, narrative voice, plausibility and storyline.
  3. All entries will initially be read and judged by a team of readers who will score the entries to produce a smaller number of stories for the judging panel to read. The shortlist will be announced via the CWA website ( and shortlisted authors will be contacted directly.
  4. Longlist, shortlist and the winner will be announced at dates to be announced.
  5. The winner will receive prize money of £500 and two full weekend passes to CrimeFest for the following year. Margery Allingham-related books may also form part of the prize.
  6. The winning story will be published on the CWA website and submission is an acceptance of this.
  7. The winner may also be invited to have their story published in the Margery Allingham Society journal subject to timings and eligibility and at the editor’s discretion.
  8. The judging panel will be appointed by the Margery Allingham Society with the approval of the Chair of the CWA. Its decisions will be made in an impartial and fair way and will be final. No discussion or correspondence about the result will be considered, nor will any feedback be given.


  1. All shortlisted entrants will be contacted personally by email or telephone using the details provided at the time of entry.
  2. By submitting an entry, entrants of all winning or shortlisted entries agree to ensure that in the event that any winning or runner up entry is subsequently published, including in any anthology publications, it will carry the Crime Writers’ Association logo if requested to do so and provided all materials bearing such approved credits, logos or trademarks are pre-approved by the Crime Writers’ Association. Such accreditation if required will be provided to the winner and shortlisted authors.


Entrants retain the copyright in their entries, but by submitting a story for the competition entrants acknowledge and agree that each shortlisted entrant:

  1. grants to the Crime Writers’ Association, its affiliates, licensees, successors and assignees a worldwide sub-licensable, perpetual, transferable, non-exclusive royalty fee licence to use in any way whatsoever including but not limited to: public performance, public display, publishing, reproduction, broadcasting, amendment or modification of the entry or any part of the entry on and through the website or any website associated with the CWA in its different present and future forms – for example newsprint, Braille, talking book, podcast, audio download, electronic databases, e-book, mobile device application, electronic media or website including mobile form or any other facsimile or derivative versions in any medium;
  2. Without prejudice to the above, grants CWA and the Margery Allingham Society a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free licence to publish the winning entry and an extract of the shortlisted stories.

All entrants (whether author, publisher, agent) will be deemed to have granted the rights for publication and distribution in the following formats: paper, e-paper, e-book, downloadable format, talking book, podcast, mobile device applications, electronic media or website including mobile form or in any other present or future form of publication, and they or their agents will clear the necessary rights for such publications and distribution. The rights for publication will be non-exclusive, with no bar on publication rights elsewhere.


  1. All announcements in relation to the CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition will be published on, the CWA twitter feed (@The_CWA) or via the Crime Readers’ Association website
  2. Entrants must provide their name, email address, telephone number and postal address on the initial entry form.
  3. The competition will be administered by the CWA. The CWA will only ever use personal details for the purposes of administering the award, and will not publish them or provide them without permission to anyone not involved in the administration of the award.
  4. Entrants must supply full details as required above, and comply with all rules to be eligible for the Award. Ineligible, obscene or fraudulent entries will automatically be disqualified.
  5. The CWA reserves the right to refuse any entry for any reason at its absolute discretion, and reserves the right to vary the Rules and Conditions of Entry, and alter the published programme, as may be deemed necessary. Any amendments will be published on
  6. The CWA reserves the right to cancel, modify or supersede this competition (including amending prizes) at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  7. By entering, all eligible entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by each and all of these terms and conditions. The CWA reserves the right to exclude entrants and withhold prizes for violating any of these terms and conditions.
  8. The submission of an author’s work by a publisher or agent will be taken as agreement by the author that he/she is willing for the submitted work to be considered and that he/she consents to and approves of all terms and conditions contained herein and as agreement by the published or agent guarantee and procure the author’s compliance with these terms and conditions. If such publisher or agent fails to do the foregoing, the CWA may at its sole discretion disqualify the entry and/or reclaim any award and/or associated prize money and revise the shortlist and (if applicable) winning entries. Any author who submits an entry warrants that he/she has obtained all necessary publisher and/or agent consents required to submit an entry in accordance with these terms and conditions.
  9. All entrants will indemnify the CWA against loss or damage (including any legal costs or expenses and any compensation costs and disbursements paid by the CWA team on the advice of legal counsel to compromise or settle any claim) occasioned by the CWA in consequence of any breach of the warranties contained in these terms and conditions or arising out of any claim alleging that the submitted entry constitutes an infringement of copyright or contains libellous, obscene or defamatory matter.
  10. There is no alternative to the prize stated and the prize is not transferable and no part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions.
  11. The CWA will not be liable for any failure of receipt of entries. The CWA has no responsibility for any entries which are lost, delayed, illegible, damaged, incomplete or otherwise invalid. If the CWA is unable to contact a shortlisted author despite making reasonable attempts to do so, the judges will be entitled to short list another entry. Other than the death or personal injury arising from the acts or omissions of the CWA it will not be liable for any loss or damage arising out of the winner’s enjoyment of the prize.
  12. The promoter of this award is the Crime Writers’ Association.
  13. These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales and entrants submit all matters arising in relation to these terms and conditions or the CWA to the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. Nothing contained in this clause shall limit the rights of the CWA, its affiliates or subsidiaries, successors or assignees, to bring a claim against any part in any other jurisdiction.

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