Letchworth 2012: Poverty then and now, Orwell and his successors


  • Stephen Armstrong is the author of Road to Wigan Pier Revisited, a book he retraced Orwell’s steps in The Road to Wigan Pier to write. His journalism includes work for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, GQ, Elle, Wallpaper and the New Statesman.
  • Dr Michael Sayeau replaced Peter Davison on the Board of trustees for the Orwell Archive at UCL. He is a lecturer of English whose own work includes an examination of the everyday in modern literature.
  • Jacqueline Crooks is is Director of Befriend a Family who work with children living in poverty within Westminster. She is also a published writer.
  • Gwenton Sloley is a real life character from Hood Rat, shortlisted for this year’s Orwell Prize for Books. Gwenton is a former gang member, who is now the Project Manager of London’s Shian Housing Association’s Makeda Weaver project, which works with young offenders. His autobiography is From the Streets to Scotland Yard*
  • Chaired by Katriona Lewis, Operations Manager of The Orwell Prize.

  • *Formally billed as Gavin Knight, author of Hood Rat


    In early 1936 Orwell journeyed to Wigan, a town ravaged by the Great Depression. Reports on what he saw and who he met there formed the basis for the first part of The Road to Wigan Pier. The book was critical in the development of his own political views and stirred mass commitment to democratic socialism. Has this change been sustained? For the 75th anniversary, of The Road to Wigan Pier our panel will examine the parallels between poverty in the 20th and 21st centuries and discuss how our writers can impact on society.


  • George Orwell: The Road to Wigan Pier
  • Ben Pimlott: Introduction to Orwell’s England
  • The Road to Wigan Pier Diary Blog
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying
  • Video