The Gaskell Journal

The Joan Leach Memorial Graduate Student Essay Competition

The Gaskell Journal runs a biennial Graduate Student Essay Prize in honour of Joan Leach MBE, founder of the Gaskell Society. The winning essay will be published in the Gaskell Journal (with revisions as appropriate), and its author will receive £200 from the Gaskell Society, and a complimentary copy of the Journal. Please note that all shortlisted submissions will be considered for potential publication in the Gaskell Journal.

The next essay competition deadline is 1st February, 2026.

The essay competition is open to all graduate students currently registered for an MA or PhD. Entries must offer an original contribution to the field of Gaskell studies, whether a reading of her works in relation to Victorian cultural, religious, aesthetic and scientific contexts, or innovative close readings enlightened by critical theory, or a comparative study connecting Gaskell’s with another author’s work.

Essays will be shortlisted by the Gaskell Journal Editorial Board, with the final winner being chosen by our guest judge, Professor Kate Flint of the University of Southern California (author of works including The Woman Reader 1837-1914, The Victorians and the Visual Imagination, The Transatlantic Indian, Flash! Photography, Writing and Surprising Illumination, and monographs on both Gaskell and Dickens).

For submission details, please download the entry form.

Previous winners:

2012 – Kerri E. Hunt, University of Chicago
2014 – Christie Allen, University of Michigan
2016 – Molly C. O’Donnell, University of Nevada
2018 – Roxanne L. Gentry, University of Connecticut
2020 – Christopher Harrington, La Trobe University, Melbourne
2022 – Hannah E. Scupham, University of Kansas
2024 – Lucina Schwartz, Rutgers University, New Brunswick