Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition

The Annual Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition

Eugene Lee-Hamilton was a poet and novelist who studied at Oriel (1864-66) who revived the use of Petrarchan Sonnets in his own work, and encouraged it in others. The poetry competition prize was founded by the late Mrs Eliza Ann Lee-Hamilton by bequest in 1943, in memory of Eugene James Lee-Hamilton who died in 1907, in order to encourage the composition of the Petrarchan sonnet in Oxford and Cambridge.

About the Competition

The Provost and Fellows of Oriel College offer an annual prize of £60 for the best Petrarchan Sonnet in English submitted by a current undergraduate of Oxford or Cambridge. The sonnet can be on a topic of the author’s choosing, and enjambment between the eighth and ninth lines is permitted.

How to Enter - 2018 Competition

The 2018 Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition is now open for entries. If you wish to enter, please email your sonnet to Rebecca Bricklebank:, by 12 noon on Thursday 24 May 2018. Results will be announced by 15 June 2018.

No candidate may submit more than one sonnet to the competition, and previous winners are not eligible to win again. Each sonnet must be accompanied by an email from the Head or a Fellow of the entrant’s college, confirming that the candidate is a current undergraduate student. The winner will have been deemed to have given permission to publish his/her sonnet online on Oriel’s website, and in the Oriel Record.

2017 Winning Poem

The winner of the Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition 2017 was Conor Wilcox-Mahon, St John's College, Oxford with his sonnet 'Merlin's Tower'.

2016 Winning Poem

The winner of the Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition 2016 was Jacob Mercer, The Queen's College, Oxford with his sonnet 'The Colossus'.

2015 Winning Poem 

The winner of the Eugene Lee-Hamilton Poetry Competition 2015 was Dominic Hand, Oriel College, Oxford with his sonnet 'On First Looking at Newman's Window'

2014 Winning Poems

There were two winning poems in 2014; Catherine Olver, of Corpus Cristi College, Cambridge with 'The Labourers to Proserpina', and Tara Lee, of Queens' College, Cambridge with 'What the time tells'.