Literary Prize

Benjamin Franklin is one of history’s great figures. While he made lasting contributions in many fields, his first passion was writing. He believed in the power of the written word as the bedrock of a democratic society, to inform, and stimulate debate.

Each year a question or quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our time is open for interpretation in 1000-1500 words. The competition is exclusively for young writers, aged 18-25, with a first prize of £750, and a second prize of £500. Winning entries will be published on our website.

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize is held in association with The Telegraph and endowed by Benjamin Franklin House Chairman John Studzinski, a leading executive and philanthropist.

Literary Prize Judges

  • Dr. Márcia Balisciano, Director of Benjamin Franklin House
  • Lord Guy Black, Executive Director of the Telegraph Media Group
  • Wendy Moore, English journalist, author, and historian
  • Dr. Huw David, Director of Development at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford
  • Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group and Board Member of Benjamin Franklin House

2019 Competition

Man giving a talk in Franklin's parlour
People standing and chatting in Franklin's parlour
A woman giving a talk in Franklin's parlour
People watching a presentation in Franklin's parlour

The quote for 2020 was ‘Glass, China and Reputation are easily crack’d, and never well mended’ Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1750. We accepted both fiction and non-fiction entries from aspiring writers aged 18 to 25.

Our first-place winner was Saudamini Sigdel, a student in International Relations at the University of Westminster, London. Read Saudamini’s fiction entry here.

Our second-place winner was Matthew Fitzgerald, a student in English Language and Literature at the Open University. Read Matthew’s non-fiction entry, here.

2021 Competition

The Franklin quote for interpretation in 2021 is ‘Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.’ Silence Dogood, No.8, The New-England Courant (1722). Please find details of how to enter below:

  • Entries of 1000-1500 words must be sent to education@benjaminfranklinhouse.org by 31 October 2021
  • Entrants must be aged 18-25 years and living in the UK
  • Each entrant is asked to provide their name, preferred email, postal address, and phone number within the email and the entry attached as a word document. In addition, entrants should provide their age and place of study (if applicable; if they are not in education, they should provide a biographical note explaining their current activities)
  • Entrants may submit only one entry; fiction or non-fiction

Please contact our Education Manager with any queries.

Illustration of Benjamin Franklin writing at a desk
Feather quill and handwritten letter
Join Us

Talk: Franklin and his British Friends

Dr. Márcia Balisciano, Director of Benjamin Franklin House will introduce Franklin’s British milieu, those who challenged and sustained him during his long London sojourn.  Fellow members of the Lunar Society like Josiah Wedgwood, Erasmus Darwin and Matthew Bolton, reformed rogues like Sir Francis Dashwood, and artists like the blind organist John Stanley will all feature in this illustrated talk.