Design a Book Jacket Competition 2023

The 2023 Competition Winner is announced

2023 WINNER:

Leah Risby Cambridge School of Art
She says of her design: "I am in my final year, and over the past year, I have found that I enjoy working with nature and organic forms. My favourite way to create my illustrations is with analogue materials like paper, which I then compose digitally."


Palak Garg Camberwell College of Arts

Danielle Glover University of Plymouth

Charlotte Hunt Arts University Bournemouth

Inna Martinova Bishop Laney School Ely

Nausicaa Naibo Robert Gordon University Aberdeen

Jacob Smith Birmingham City University

Fen Truitt Falmouth University

Maddie Williams Falmouth University

The Book Jacket Competition is open to all students of design, graphic design, photography or art (or related courses) currently studying in the UK, who are 16 years or over on 24th March 2023.

The winner will receive £400 plus the chance to have their winning design appear as the cover of the 2023 Young Poets Collection, and work on a commission with the award-winning independent publisher Little Toller Press for its online journal The Clearing.

How they entered

The Stratford Literary Festival holds The Felix Dennis Young Poets Prize 2023, and the winning entry will appear as the cover of a Festival Collection book on sale on the Festival website.

Students are invited to design the jacket of the book – a great opportunity to add a project to your portfolio to demonstrate your skills, and to show to colleges and universities you are applying to, or to future employers.

The instructions below need to be read carefully as your design needs to be suitable for print and there are specific guidelines that we need to follow.


The final design had to be submitted here as a low res pdf (no larger than 8MB) by 5.30pm Friday 24th March 2023.

Your entry must include your name, address, age and place where you are studying. Please include your name in the file name also.

The Brief

Audience for the book: All age groups

Tone: The book will feature the winning poems by people aged 5 to 21 who have entered our competition. This is an annual event and the book will be published in May 2023. We are looking at a jacket design that is colourful, lively and sharp and that shows a unique and interesting execution. This might be interpreted in any way you choose. There is no particular need for it to relate to Stratford – though working this in might be a nice touch to reflect the location of the Festival. The book needs to quickly communicate the message of what it is as it will be on sale in Waterstones during and after the Festival. Take time to look at covers in a bookshop that catch your eye and ask yourself why they do.

The following must be included in your design:

235mm high x 155mm wide for the Front and 235mm high x 155mm wide for the Back. Allow 10mm for the spine. The book title and Festival Swan logo will need to feature on the spine.

Book Title:
Young Poets Collection 2023

Sub-title to appear on the front of the jacket:
Stratford Literary Festival Felix Dennis Young Poets Prize Winners 2023

Back Cover:
Leave room for 8 lines of blurb about the book contents.

Leave 45mm w x 30mm space at the bottom of the reverse of the cover for the ISBN (bar code) graphic and 45mm w x 50mm high for our logo.

You need to also include the following:

Cover designed by: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

UK £9.99


The winning entry will need to supply all fonts and images (at 300dpi) and the artwork as an InDesign or Illustrator File.

Any questions about entry can be emailed to us here.

The Small Print:

  1. The Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  2. All entries must be in English, original and must not have been published or have won competitions elsewhere. Stratford Literary Festival reserves the right to use the winning image when and where it deems suitable, though the copyright remains with the artists/photographer. The winning cover may be used by the copyright holder in a portfolio to publicise the prize but cannot be used for commercial purposes elsewhere without the permission of the Stratford Literary Festival.
  3. All entries must follow the guidelines above. Any entries that do not will not be considered. We accept only one submission per entry. All entries must include your name, address, age on 24th March 2023 and place of study. The winning entrant may be asked to make reasonable amendments to their entry and the Stratford Literary Festival reserves the right to make amendments to final artwork as it sees fit.
  4. The competition is open to students aged 16 and over currently enrolled on a course in the UK.
  5. Entries must directly reflect that it is an anthology of poetry.
  6. Entries will not be accepted after the closing date.
  7. Writers will be notified before the launch of the Festival on 2nd May 2023. The winning entry will appear as the jacket on a Festival book which will be on sale online through our website.
  8. By entering and supplying your email address you are allowing us to notify you about the Stratford Literary Festival. Your information will not be shared with any third parties.

Our 2022 Winner!

Charlotte Rowley
Charlotte is a third year illustration student at Birmingham City University
She says: 'During my time at university, I have had the opportunity to expand my skills and develop a unique style and ideas with the help of critical feedback. Most of my hobbies intertwine with my illustration work as I enjoy cross-stitching, crochet, paper crafts and lino print. Traveling to new places and surrounding myself with nature is one of my main inspirations as I love to draw ideas from life surrounding me.'

WINNER of the 2020 Book jacket Design Prize
Amy Higgins
- MA Authorial Illustration at Falmouth University

WINNER of the 2019 Book Jacket Design Prize
Florine Delasalle - MA in Illustration and Book Art at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Competition Sponsors
Felix Dennis was a publisher, poet and planter of trees, and a great supporter of the Festival. He died in 2014. His Executors are supporting the competition in his memory to encourage writers and poets.

Little Toller Books
is an award winning publisher of non-fiction books about nature, place and culture, based in Dorset. They publish books by authors as diverse as Dara McAnulty, Jay Griffiths, Charles Foster, Tim Dee, Edward Thomas and Clare Leighton.

The success of Little Toller’s Nature Classics has enabled it to grow into an independent publisher, attuned to writers and artists who seek inventive ways to reconnect us with the natural world and to celebrate the places we live in.

The experience was absolutely vital in further understanding the industry. It gave me an invaluable insight into what is important in commercial book cover design. I got an idea of the whole process - not just the art department. If you make the most of your time and take everything on board you will create something to be proud of.

Joshua Pell, Winner 2017

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