Essay Competition: What is Britain?

The maxim of the British people is “Business as Usual”.

Winston Churchill

The Mallard is happy to launch our autumn essay competition: “What is Britain?”


Over the course of decades, Britain has lost its sense of self. Instead of invoking a complex identity, an intertwining of culture, history, and ethnicity, contemporary Britishness is a superficial tourist-friendly caricature. It’s about cups of tea, the Queen’s corgis, rainy days, and a sclerotic health service; it’s about “being nice” and “forming an orderly queue”.

We reject this notion of ourselves. “What is Britain?” is a chance to counteract this hegemonic twee post-war gush. “What is Britain?” is a chance for the British people to rewrite and revitalise Britain’s national myth. The tale of Britain should enamour its inhabitants, not disaffect them or bore them to death.

We are not asking for outright falsehood, nor are we asking for historical pedantry. “What is Britain?” is an act of storytelling; a story that encapsulates our past, informs our present, and drives our nation’s future. What is Britain’s identity?


The winning project will be published in the October 2022 edition of The Mallard print magazine, as well as £50 cash.


Word count: 5,000 words maximum.
Deadline: 30th September 23:59
The winning entry shall be chosen by Editor in Chief, Samuel Martin.


To submit a project, email us at