Charles Dickens Prize 2018

From the Ormond Butler Bequest

The Melbourne Dickens Fellowship is pleased to announce The Charles Dickens Prize from the Ormond Butler Bequest, a competition available to national secondary school students.

Has your imagination ever been stirred by the tale of Oliver Twist, the madness of Miss Havisham or the journey of David Copperfield? If so, and if you are an Australian student aged 14 to 18 years, you have the opportunity to enter a competition that rewards and celebrates the reading of this legendary author.

The Prize is sponsored by the Melbourne Dickens Fellowship and has been made possible by the generous bequest of Mr Ormond Butler, a long-standing and passionate member of the MDF until his death in 2012.

Information on the essay topics and final submission date (August) will be available on the website annually in March.


The prize is open to students aged 14 – 18 years as at 1 January for the current year.

Students may select from EITHER of the following options. A $500 prize will be awarded to the best entry received in each category.

  • A 1000 word essay in response to the topic: In his literature, Dickens presents characters who develop in response to challenge. Discuss in relation to at least one character.


  • A creative piece (500 – 700 words) inspired by any work of Charles Dickens, fiction or non-fiction, accompanied by a 200 word statement explaining the inspiration that informs your piece. The creative piece may take the form of:
    • A ‘new’ chapter or passage that might plausibly appear in an existing novel.
    • A chapter or passage from a novel that might be rewritten in the voice of a different character or minor character in the novel.
    • A short piece inspired by a character or characters in Dickens’s novel.
    • An article inspired by one of the pieces in Sketches by Boz.

The winners of each category receive $500. The prize and a certificate are given at a meeting of the Melbourne Dickens Fellowship, time and date to be advised.

The prize is open to students aged 14 – 18 years as at 1st January 2018.
Entries may be submitted between 21st March and 10th August 2018.
The MDF thanks VATE and VCAA for both organisations’ ready assistance, kindness and willingness to support and promote the Prize.
The MDF reserves the right to publish the prize-winning entries.
The MDF reserves the right not to award a prize if it is felt the submissions are not deserving.
Past winners are ineligible to compete in the same category in which they won the Prize.


All submissions should be typed in Times New Roman 12 point type (or a font of equivalent size) with double spacing between lines. Pages should be numbered.

How to submit: send one printed copy of your piece plus the entry form to Elisabeth Neales, Melbourne Dickens Fellowship, 207/85 Yarrbat Ave, Balwyn, Vic., 3103. Entries may be submitted between Wednesday 21st March and Friday 10th August 2018.
By email to Elisabeth Neales at with a downloaded signed and scanned copy of the entry form. Photographs are not acceptable. All entries will be acknowledged.

Any enquiries can be directed to The Secretary at