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The Orwell Prize, based at University College London, is a British prize for political writing of outstanding quality. The Prize is awarded by The Orwell Foundation, an independent charity (Registered Charity No 1161563, formerly 'The Orwell Prize') governed by a board of trustees.[1] Four prizes are awarded each year: one each for a fiction (to be first awarded in 2019) and non-fiction book on politics, one for journalism and one for 'Exposing Britain's Social Evils' (established 2015); between 2009 and 2012, a fifth prize was awarded for blogging. In each case, the winner is the short-listed entry which comes closest to George Orwell's own ambition to "make political writing into an art".[2]

In 2014, the Youth Orwell Prize was launched, targeted at school years 9 to 13 in order to "support and inspire a new generation of politically engaged young writers".[3] In 2015, The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain's Social Evils, sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was launched.[4]

The British political theorist Sir Bernard Crick founded The Orwell Prize in 1993, using money from the royalties of the hardback edition of his biography of Orwell. Its current sponsors are Orwell's son Richard Blair, The Political Quarterly, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Orwell Estate's literary agents, A. M. Heath.[5] The Prize was formerly sponsored by the Media Standards Trust and Reuters.[6] Bernard Crick remained Chair of the judges until 2006; since 2007, the media historian Professor Jean Seaton has been the Director of the Prize. Judging panels for all four prizes are appointed annually.[7]


Winners and shortlists[8]Edit

The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction (2019 - )Edit

The Orwell Prize for Political Writing (2019 - )Edit

Combined book category (1994 - 2018)Edit

Beginning with 2019, the Book prize was split into fiction and non-fiction categories.[9]

The Orwell Prize for Journalism (1994 - )Edit

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils (2015 - )Edit

  • 2015
    • Alison Holt - Care of the elderly and vulnerable, BBC
    • Randeep Ramesh - Casino-style Gambling as a Social Ill
    • Nick Mathiason - A Great British Housing Crisis
    • Mark Townsend - Serco: a hunt for the truth inside Yarl's Wood
    • George Arbuthnott - Slaves in peril on the sea
    • Aditya Chakrabortty - London Housing Crisis
  • 2016
    • Nicci Gerrard - Words fail us: Dementia and the arts[32]
    • Financial Times (Sally Gainsbury, Sarah Neville and John Burn-Murdoch) - The Austerity State
    • Channel 4 (Jackie Long, Job Rabkin and Lee Sorrell) - Detention Undercover: Inside Yarl's Wood
    • Michael Buchanan - Investigation into NHS Failings
    • London Evening Standard (David Cohen, Matt Writtle and Kiran Mensah) - The Estate We're In
    • The Guardian (David Leigh, James Ball, Juliette Garside and David Pegg) - The HSBC Files
  • 2017
    • Felicity Lawrence - The gangsters on England's doorstep (The Guardian)
    • Billy Kenber - Drug profiteering exposed (The Times)
    • BuzzFeed News (Tom Warren, Jane Bradley & Richard Holmes) - The RBS Dash for Cash (Editor: Heidi Blake(
    • Ros Wynne-Jones - Real Britain (Daily Mirror)
    • Mark Townsend - From Brighton the Battlefield (The Guardian)
    • True Vision Aire & The Guardian (Anna Hall, Erica Gornal and Louise Tickle) - Behind Closed Doors
  • 2018
    • Financial Times (Sarah O’Connor, John Burn-Murdoch and Christopher Nunn) - On the Edge
    • Channel 4 News (Andy Davies, Anja Popp, Dai Baker) - Her Name Was Lindy
    • BBC Panorama (Joe Plomin) - Behind Locked Doors
    • BuzzFeed UK (Patrick Strudwick) - This Man Had His Leg Broken in Four Places Because He Is Gay
    • The Observer (Mark Townsend) - Four young black men die: were they killed by the police?
    • Manchester Evening News (Jennifer Williams) - Spice

Blog category (2009-2012)Edit

  • 2009
    • Richard Horton: "NightJack– An English Detective" [1]
    • Paul Mason
    • Owen Polley
    • Iain Dale
    • Alix Mortimer
    • Andrew Sparrow
  • 2010
    • Winston Smith (pseudonym): "Working with the Underclass" [2]
    • Hopi Sen – "Hopi Sen" [3]
    • David Allen Green – "Jack of Kent" [4]
    • Laurie Penny – "Penny Red" and others [5]
    • Madam Miaow (pseudonym) – "Madam Miaow says: Of culture, pop-culture and petri dishes" [6]
    • Tim Marshall – "Foreign Matters"[33]
  • 2011
    • Graeme Archer[34]
    • Paul Mason
    • Nelson Jones
    • Molly Bennett
    • Duncan McLaren[35]
    • Daniel Hannan[36]
    • Cath Elliott[37]
  • 2012
    • Rangers Tax Case
    • Ms Baroque (pseudonym) – "Baroque in Hackney" [7]
    • BendyGirl (pseudonym) – "Benefit Scrounging Scum" [8]
    • Alex Massie – "Alex Massie" [9]
    • Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi – "Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi" [10]
    • Wiggy (pseudonym) – "Beneath The Wig" [11]
    • Lisa Ansell – "Lisa Ansell" [12]

Special prizesEdit

In addition to the four regular prizes, the judges may choose to award a special prize. In 2007, BBC's Newsnight programme was given a special prize, the judges noting: "When we were discussing the many very fine pieces of journalism that were submitted Newsnight just spontaneously emerged in our deliberations as the most precious and authoritative home for proper reporting of important stories, beautifully and intelligently crafted by journalists of rare distinction." In 2008, Clive James was given a special award. In 2009, Tony Judt was given a lifetime achievement award. A posthumous award was made to Christopher Hitchens in 2012, his book Arguably having been longlisted that year.[38] In 2014, the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland was given a special award, after having been shortlisted for the Journalism Prize that year.


In 2008 the winner in the Journalism category was Johann Hari. In July 2011 the Council of the Orwell Prize decided to revoke Hari's award and withdraw the prize. Public announcement was delayed as Hari was then under investigation by The Independent for professional misconduct.[39] In September 2011 Hari announced that he was returning his prize "as an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews", although he "stands by the articles that won the prize".[40] A few weeks later, the Council of the Orwell Prize confirmed that Hari had returned the plaque but not the £2000 prize money, and issued a statement that one of the articles submitted for the prize, "How multiculturalism is betraying women", published by the Independent in April 2007, "contained inaccuracies and conflated different parts of someone else's story (specifically, a report in Der Spiegel)".[41]

Hari did not initially return the prize money of £2000.[42] He later offered to repay the money, but Political Quarterly, responsible for paying the prize money in 2008, instead invited Hari to make a donation to English PEN, of which George Orwell was a member. Hari arranged with English PEN to make a donation equal to the value of the prize, to be paid in installments once Hari returned to work at The Independent.[43] However, Hari did not return to work at The Independent.


  1. ^ "About the Orwell Foundation". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  2. ^ "About the prizes". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  3. ^ "The Orwell Youth Prize". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  4. ^ "The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain's Social Evils". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  5. ^ "The sponsors". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  6. ^ "A brief history". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  7. ^ "A Brief History".
  8. ^ "Previous winners". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  9. ^ a b c "Orwell Foundation to Launch Political Fiction Prize". Orwell Prize. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  10. ^ "BBC NEWS | Africa | Award for Sierra Leone war novel". Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  11. ^ Flood, Alison (2009-04-22). "Guardian journalist wins Orwell book prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  12. ^ Flood, Alison (2011-05-17). "Orwell prize goes to Tom Bingham". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  13. ^ "Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing". BBC News. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  14. ^ Flood, Alison (2013-05-15). "Orwell prize goes to 'chilling' study of Baha Mousa's death". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  15. ^ "This Boy". The Orwell Prize. 2014-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (2015-05-21). "James Meek wins Orwell prize for political writing". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  17. ^ "Fine shortlisted for Orwell Prize 2018 | Books+Publishing". Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  18. ^ "Ian Bell: Scottish journalist whose nationalist writing won him the George Orwell Prize". The Independent. 2015-12-17. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  19. ^ "Another prestigious award for journalism". The Independent. 2000-04-14. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  20. ^ "'Independent' writers are honoured in George Orwell awards". The Independent. 2002-04-16. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  21. ^ Jones, Sam (2006-04-05). "Garton Ash wins Orwell prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  22. ^ Dowell, Ben (2007-04-25). "Beaumont wins Orwell prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  23. ^ "Cockburn wins top journalism award". The Independent. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  24. ^ "Peter Hitchens wins Orwell Prize". Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  25. ^ Deans, Jason (2011-05-18). "Jenni Russell wins Orwell prize for political journalism". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  26. ^ Jones, Sam (2012-05-24). "Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman wins Orwell prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  27. ^ Devlin, Mike. "Journalist Wins Orwell Prize for Investigative Journalism - Stephensons Solicitors LLP". Stephensons Solicitors LLP. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  28. ^ Williams, Martin (2014-05-21). "Two Guardian journalists win Orwell prize for journalism". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  29. ^ Ratcliffe, Rebecca (2015-05-21). "Guardian journalist Martin Chulov wins Orwell prize for Middle East coverage". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  30. ^ "Gideon Rachman wins 2016 Orwell Prize for journalism". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  31. ^ "Alumna wins prestigious Orwell Prize for Journalism". City, University of London. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  32. ^ "In telling their life stories, we seek to restore dignity to society's 'ghosts'". The Guardian. 2016-05-28. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
  33. ^ "Foreign Matters Blog – Foreign policy and affairs, analysis and insights | Sky News Blogs". Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  34. ^ "Graeme Archer". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  35. ^ "Duncan McLaren". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  36. ^ "Daniel Hannan". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  37. ^ "Cath Elliott". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  38. ^ "Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  39. ^ Halliday, Josh (27 September 2011). "Johann Hari faces fresh plagiarism allegations". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  40. ^ Hari, Johann (15 September 2011). "Johann Hari: A personal apology". The Independent. London.
  41. ^ Gunter, Joel. "Orwell Prize will not pursue Hari over failure to return money". Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  42. ^ Pugh, Andrew (27 September 2011). "Johann Hari yet to return Orwell prize £2,000". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  43. ^

External linksEdit