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New Venue and Readers Announced for Down and Out: LIVE

Down and Out: LIVE will now take place at Stone Nest, Shaftesbury Avenue: 6th June 2pm-6pm. 

Admission Free: register online today
(followed by panel debate at 6.30pm)

George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is being read and staged in an immersive, live theatrical event combining performance, music, film, poetry and story-telling for the first time at Stone Nest in the heart of London’s West End.

Orwell’s ground-breaking exploration of poverty and homelessness published in 1933 has a searing relevance to the issues of today. The Orwell Foundation has worked for a year to make this event possible: bringing together Libby Brodie Productions, UCL and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in collaboration with The Connection, YMCA, Centrepoint, Crisis and Streetwise Opera, with support from White Light and The Young Theatre.

When at a very late stage its planned venue became untenable, Stone Nest in the former Welsh Chapel on Cambridge Circus, a performing arts venue a short walk from UCL’s Bloomsbury campus, stepped in at the last moment – generously donating the space in-kind, for which we are all enormously grateful. 

At Stone Nest, in the spirit of Orwell, we hope to help give expression to voices that are rarely heard, a platform for people who are not seen, and to raise uncomfortable truths about our society. Many people have contributed their time and experience to make this project a success.

The performance of the text has been re-imagined by Director Hannah Price and Producer Libby Brodie – who staged – with the Orwell Foundation – the successful first ever public reading of the whole of 1984 last year at Senate House. This NEW WORK will be live-streamed into libraries and venues across Britain and can be watched from all over the world. The performance will be followed by an expert panel discussing the policy and political solutions that are needed to help solve the problems raised.

Down and Out: LIVE tries to use at least some of Orwell’s own research methods – learning about experiences at first hand. The ideas, the words, the immersive dramatization, the sets and sounds have been shaped by collaboration with people with experience of the variety of modern homelessness and poverty.  The project has worked closely with service users from The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields and young people from the YMCA in Stoke (where the Orwell Foundation has run writing workshops) to collect individual stories of the journey to rough-sleeping and homelessness. Some who have bravely shared their stories will be readers on the day.

Jean Seaton, the Director of the Orwell Foundation said:

‘From the start we have wanted to use the authority and integrity of Orwell’s work to give a platform for people who have experienced homelessness to speak out and, for the first time, share their stories with the public. They are the stars of this performance.’

Among other distinguished readers are Jon Snow, Bonnie Greer, Peter Hitchens, Simon Callow, Jack Monroe and Ben Aldridge. Four artists have been commissioned to create responses to contemporary homelessness and want. Poets Adam Kammerling, Sabrina Mahfouz and Joelle Taylor’s work will be part of the event. Edwin Mingard will make a film in reaction to the programme and the later event in Paris which will be launched later in the year. Hannah Price has worked to bring these various pieces and fuses them with some newly created scores from the contributing actors and musicians to create an original, evocative and ground-breaking new piece of theatre.

The event, part of UCL’s week-long Festival of Culture, is being presented by the Orwell Foundation: an independent charity that is based at UCL alongside the Orwell Archive, which has been held at UCL since 1960.

The George Orwell Archive is the most comprehensive body in the world of research material relating to Orwell. Manuscripts, notebooks and personalia were presented on permanent loan by his widow on behalf of the George Orwell Archive Trust, supplemented by donations and purchases. The aim of the Trustees of the Archive was to make a research centre for Orwell studies, by bringing together all of Orwell’s printed works, including newspaper items; private correspondence; other private papers in the possession of his widow; printed matter other than his own which will help later generations to understand the controversies in which he was involved; and tape recordings or written statements by all with first-hand experience of him of any consequence.

Download, print and share our promotional poster, by Edwin Mingard


Orwell Prize 2018 Shortlists Revealed

The shortlists for The Orwell Prize 2018, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, were announced tonight at the Bath Festival during The Orwell Prize Debate, which featured this year’s chair of judges for the book prize, politician, academic and journalist Andrew Adonis.

Following a year in which Orwell’s name has returned to the heart of political discourse, The Orwell Prize judges for Books, Journalism and the Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils choose their most compelling examples of political writing of 2017.

  • Book Prize judge Lorien Kite said: ‘Brexit, immigration, revolution, gender, poverty, the Middle East – the dominant themes were always clear but so too was the range of approaches deployed by this year’s Orwell Prize entries… six titles that succeed in quite different ways and together illustrate the vigour and variety of political writing in our tumultuous times.’
  • Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils judge Farrah Storr said: ‘This has been a momentous year of change, one in which we rely more than ever on our best journalists to seek out the truth and present it back to the world. This year’s shortlisted candidates have not only done that but in the process have created works of journalism that are as brilliant and brave as they are beautifully crafted. Orwell would have approved.’
  • Chair of Journalism Prize judges David Bell was thrilled with the‘fine cross-section of the best of British journalism’ and Elinor Goodman ‘was humbled by the quality of the writing on the shortlist and the way the finalists tackled some of the most important issues facing society at the moment’


The Orwell Prize for Books 2018 shortlist is:

  • The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason, Christopher de Bellaigue (Bodley Head) “An absorbing account of the political and social reformations that transformed the lands of Islam in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”
  • Testosterone Rex, Cordelia Fine (Icon Books) “A examination of why present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future. It reveals a much more dynamic situation through an entertaining and well-documented exploration of the latest research that draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy.”
  • What You Did Not Tell, Mark Mazower (Allen Lane) “In the centenary of the Russian Revolution, What You Did Not Tell recounts a brand of socialism erased from memory – humanistic, impassioned, and broad-ranging in its sympathies. But it also explores the unexpected happiness that may await history’s losers, the power of friendship, and the love of place.”
  • Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey (Luath Press Ltd) “People from deprived communities all across Britain feel misunderstood and unheard. Darren McGarvey, aka Loki, gives voice to their feelings and concerns, and anger that is spilling over.”
  • Winter, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) “In the second novel in her seasonal cycle, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter.”
  • Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain, Clair Wills (Allen Lane) “Clair Wills’ book brings to life the incredible diversity and strangeness of the migrant experience. She introduces us to lovers, scroungers, dancers, homeowners, teachers, drinkers, carers and many more to show the opportunities and excitement as much as the humiliation and poverty that could be part of the new arrivals’ experience.”

The judges of The Orwell Prize for Books 2018 are Andrew Adonis, Literary journalist and Artistic Director of Words and Literature at the Bath Festival Alex Clark, novelist Kit de Waal and Deputy Life & Arts Editor for the Financial Times, Lorien KitePrevious winners of The Orwell Prize for Books include John Bew (2017), Raja Shehadeh (2008), Alan Johnson (2014) and Andrea Gillies (2010).


The shortlist for the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2018 is:

  • Carole Cadwalladr (The Observer)
  • Edward Carr (The Economist)
  • Sam Knight (The New Yorker, The Guardian)
  • Anthony Loyd (The Times)
  • Jack Shenker (Huff Post, Granta, New York Times)
  • Janice Turner (The Times)

Entrants are asked to submit three pieces of writing, which may be from one or more publications, and are listed above alongside the publications in their submissions. The judges for the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2018 are David Bell, Suzanne Franks, Elinor Goodman and Rachel Johnson.

Chair of Judges David Bell said:

‘We had a great set of pieces to judge. Orwell would have been very impressed and reassured, as we were, by their very high quality. I only wish we had had more tabloid entries. Pieces on the shortlist ranged from Tilbury as a ‘Brexit parable’ to the Rohinga – a fine cross-section of the best of British journalism.’


The shortlist for The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2018, sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is:

  • Her Name Was Lindy | Andy Davies, Anja Popp, Dai Baker (Channel 4 News)
  • On the Edge | Sarah O’Connor, John Burn-Murdoch and Christopher Nunn (Financial Times)
  • Behind Locked Doors | Joe Plomin (BBC Panorama)
  • This Man Had His Leg Broken in Four Places Because He Is Gay | Patrick Strudwick (BuzzFeed)
  • Four young black men die: were they killed by the police? | Mark Townsend (The Observer)
  • Spice | Jennifer Williams (Manchester Evening News)

The stories on the shortlist cover issues ranging from abuse in an Immigration Removal Centre to the phenomenon of “Shit Life Syndrome” among people left behind by the modern economy in Blackpool.

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2018 are Campbell Robb, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Farrah Storr, Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, winner of the 2017 Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils Felicity Lawrence and Nicholas Timmins, Senior Fellow at the King’s Fund.

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils supports and encourages original, insightful and impactful reporting on social issues in the UK. The Prize rewards multi-media stories which are reported across one or more platform, including reporting via social media, audio (including podcasts), video, photojournalism and journalistic writing.

Farrah Storr said:

‘This has been a momentous year of change, one in which we rely more than ever on our best journalists to seek out the truth and present it back to the world. This year’s shortlisted candidates have not only done that but in the process have created works of journalism that are as brilliant and brave as they are beautifully crafted. Orwell would have approved.’

Of the Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils shortlist, Nicholas Timmins said:

‘Its range includes ice-cold analysis, persistent digging, shocking television, and powerful local reporting, with words and pictures that manage, all at the same time, to horrify, move and inspire.’




The winners of each £3,000 prize will be announced at an event on 25th June (George Orwell’s 115th birthday) at the RSA.

For further information please see, and on Twitter @TheOrwellPrize. Read the full press releases here:


Orwell’s Down and Out: LIVE

“The evil of poverty is not so much that it makes a man suffer as that it rots him physically and spiritually.” – George Orwell

George Orwell’s classic book on 1930s poverty in Paris and London is to be brought to life in an immersive performance that asks searching questions about homelessness today.

Orwell wrote Down and Out in Paris and London as a result of his own experiences sleeping rough and working on what would now be called zero-hours contracts in hotel kitchens. The performance also draws on other Orwell work including his diaries, The Spike and A Clergyman’s Daughter. Readers include writers, activists, politicians, campaigners and young people who have been homeless. In a multi-disciplinary production, modern stories from the streets are experienced alongside the Orwell text.

The performances – in London on 6th June as part of UCL’s Festival of Culture, and Paris in late September – are by the same team who produced the acclaimed reading of the whole of 1984 on a single day in 2017. Each performance will be accompanied by discussions and workshops on the contemporary challenges of homelessness and poverty.

The event is the result of a collaboration between The Orwell Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Libby Brodie Productions and UCL’s Festival of Culture. It is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

The Director of the Orwell Foundation, Jean Seaton, said

“We are proud to be re-imagining Orwell’s work to focus on contemporary poverty, to use the power of the performance to shed new light. It is thrilling to be able to connect to our colleagues in Paris in this joint creative and intellectual piece of work . But we are ashamed that is so necessary.”

The Production

Drawing on the iconic works of Orwell and combining these with real-life, modern-day testimonies, Orwell’s Down and Out Live is an immersive production which focuses on the phenomenon of homelessness both in the past and present day. Read live by politicians, artists, celebrities, activists and members of the homeless community and using a combination of music, story-telling, film and performance this live theatrical event, directed by Hannah Price, will run in London for one day only ahead of a performance in Paris.

Director Hannah Price, said

“Orwell has always been known as the voice of the dispossessed: a political stalwart examining destitution, poverty and the dangers of a society that doesn’t value every member equally. I’m honoured to be using his extraordinary words as the backbone of an immersive performance that places the shocking rise of homelessness at its centre. Using live readings, music, sound and storytelling Orwell’s Down and Out Live aims to explore, examine and illuminate. After the success of 1984 Live I’m delighted to be teaming up with Libby Brodie Productions and the Orwell Foundation once again, on this important and timely piece of work.”

Libby Brodie, of Libby Brodie Productions, said,

“After the success of the UK’s first ever live reading of Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four last year, watched live by hundreds and streamed online globally by tens of thousands, LBP is honoured to create another relevant production using Orwell’s iconic work. With a shocking 60% rise in homelessness since 2012, this re-imagination of “Orwell’s Down and Out Live” will use the powerful medium of theatre to bring to life the topic of rough-sleeping and the hidden homeless in an immersive, live theatrical event in both London and Paris”.

The events will be accompanied by new poetic responses in English and French and a short film will be produced by the award-winning film-maker Edwin Mingard.

For those unable to attend the London venue, both performances will be live streamed and viewing events will be arranged in libraries and community hubs across the UK, with both the London and Paris performances being recorded in full and being made publicly available.

Inspiring social change

The Orwell Foundation is grateful for the continuing support from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who are devoted to inspiring social change. Much has improved since the Beveridge Report in 1942 categorised the five evils in society – squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. But there has been a significant increase in the numbers of homeless people both in the UK and in France. Down and Out in Paris and London – LIVE will shine a light on the issues and foster a cross-cultural dialogue culminating in a policy seminar on homelessness. Campbell Robb, the Chief Executive of The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said

“We all believe in justice and compassion and protecting people from harm. Orwell’s words are still unsurpassed in articulating what happens to people when that protection falls short.

Now low pay, insecure work, high housing costs, debt and insufficient benefits are pushing people to the brink. Hearing Orwell’s words read by people with experience of homelessness, as well as high profile speakers will bring the realities of homelessness to a diverse audience in a powerful way. The idea is to use Orwell as he would want, to build a better understanding of modern poverty and build support for action to solve homelessness. The JRF is very proud to support it.”

UCL and the Academic Context

The Orwell Foundation have developed a fruitful partnership with UCL, one of the world’s leading universities. Last year, The Orwell Foundation and UCL collaborated with Hannah Price and Libby Brodie Productions to produce Nineteen Eighty Four: Live, the first ever live reading in the UK. Down and Out: LIVE in London will take place at Stone Nest, a short walk away from UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.

UCL’s Festival of Culture Director, Catherine Thomson, said:

“We’re proud to hold the Orwell Archive here at UCL in our Special Collections, and to have been the home of the Orwell Foundation since 2016. This event offers an extraordinary opportunity to reflect collectively on the characteristics and values of UCL which resonate in George Orwell’s writing. Like Orwell, UCL is engaged with the wider world and committed to changing it for the better. We champion radical and critical thinking, and we’re committed to integrating our education, research, innovation and enterprise for the long-term benefit of humanity.”

The performance will form the backbone of a narrative that explores and reveals what homelessness is, how it manifests and what damage is does to the individual and to society at large.

Orwell strongly believed that art and literature could make direct and long-lasting change, focusing the minds and the empathies of his audience on the social or political evils of the day. This event will fuse live art and social activism in an outburst of theatre, music and literature.


Both performances of Down and Out: LIVE will be free to the public. The London event will run for one-day only on Wednesday 6th June, 2pm-6pm, with a panel debate on how we build public will to tackle the crisis to follow at 6.30pm. Both the show and panel will take place at Stone Nest 136 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 5EZ. Registration for the show and panel can be made via UCL’s Festival of Culture.





Jean Seaton: Why Orwell’s 1984 Could Be About Now

Director of the Orwell Foundation, Jean Seaton, has written about Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for a BBC Culture series on stories that shaped the world. Audiences around the world are re-reading George Orwell’s 1984, which is ‘a handbook for difficult times’, she writes:

“But now we can read 1984 differently: with anxious apprehension, using it to measure where we, our nations and the world have got to on the road map to a hell Orwell described. Prophetic? Possibly. But stirring, moving, creative, undeniable and helpful? Yes. A book published on 8 June 1949, written out of the battered landscape of total war, in a nation hungry, tired and grey, feels more relevant than ever before, because Orwell’s 1984 also arms us.”

The full article is available on BBC Culture.

Last year, The Orwell Foundation and UCL Festival of Culture were proud to present 1984 Live, produced by Libby Brodie Productions and directed by Hannah Price. The event saw over 60 cultural figures read Orwell’s masterpiece aloud over the course of a single day. Watch the full reading.

Longlists for The Orwell Prize 2018 revealed

Congratulations to all those who have been longlisted this year. Shortlists will be announced on Friday 18th May at The Bath Festival, with winners revealed at the Orwell Prize Ceremony, Monday 25th June 2018 at the RSA.

The Orwell Prize for Books:

Read the full press release here

  • The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason, Christopher de Bellaigue (Bodley Head)
  • Threads from the Refugee Crisis, Kate Evans (Verso)
  • Testosterone Rex, Cordelia Fine (Icon Books)
  • The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart (Hurst Publishers)
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury)
  • What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home, Mark Mazower (Allen Lane)
  • Poverty Safari, Darren McGarvey (Luath Press)
  • Age of Anger: A History of the Present, Pankaj Mishra (Allen Lane)
  • Bitch Doctrine, Laurie Penny (Bloomsbury)
  • Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State, Chris Renwick (Allen Lane)
  • Winter, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain, Clair Wills (Allen Lane)

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Books 2018 are Andrew Adonis (Chair), Alex Clark, Kit de Waal and Lorien Kite.

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils:

Read the full press release here

  • The Lost Childhoods David Cohen (Evening Standard)
  • Her Name Was Lindy Andy Davies, Anja Popp, Dai Baker (Channel 4 News)
  • The Mounting Scandal of London Housing Associations John Harris (The Guardian)
  • The Reality of Child Poverty Dan Hewitt & Mat Heywood (ITV Granada)
  • The New Arrivals Kate Lyons (The Guardian)
  • Professor Green: Living in Poverty Stephen Manderson & Chris McClaughin (Garden Productions for BBC THREE & BBC ONE)
  • The Housing Crisis Anna Minton (Freelance)
  • On the Edge Sarah O’Connor, John Burn-Murdoch and Christopher Nunn (Financial Times)
  • Behind Locked Doors Joe Plomin (BBC Panorama)
  • This Man Had His Leg Broken in Four Places Because He Is Gay Patrick Strudwick (BuzzFeed UK)
  • Four young black men die: were they killed by the police? Mark Townsend (The Observer)
  • Spice Jennifer Williams (Manchester Evening News)

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2018 are Felicity Lawrence, Campbell Robb, Farrah Storr and Nicholas Timmins.

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils is sponsored supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 

The Orwell Prize for Journalism:

Read the full press release here

  • Thaslima Begum (The Times, The Guardian)
  • Carole Cadwalladr (The Observer)
  • Edward Carr (The Economist)
  • Oliver Holmes (The Guardian)
  • Marina Hyde (The Guardian)
  • Matt Kelly (New European)
  • Sam Knight (The New Yorker, The Guardian)
  • Paul Lewis (The Guardian)
  • Anthony Loyd (The Times)
  • Maeve McClenaghan (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Unearthed)
  • Douglas Murray (The Spectator, The Sunday Times)
  • Jack Shenker (Huff Post, Granta, New York Times)
  • Janice Turner (The Times)
  • ‘From Russia With Blood’ by the BuzzFeed UK investigation team: Heidi Blake (Editor), Tom Warren, Richard Holmes, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley and Alex Campbell (BuzzFeed)

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Journalism are David Bell (Chair), Elinor Goodman, Suzanne Franks and Rachel Johnson. Full biographies of all this year’s Orwell Prize judges are available on The Orwell Prize website

Come on board: The Orwell Foundation is hiring

The Orwell Foundation is recruiting for the role of Assistant Project Coordinator.

The Orwell Foundation is looking for a part-time Assistant Project Coordinator to support the development and delivery of The Orwell Foundation and Orwell Youth Prize’s programmes of activity. This is a vital role supporting in the delivery of The Orwell Youth Prize programme, including school and regional workshops and our Celebration Day at Pembroke College Oxford as well as coordinating elements of The Orwell Foundation’s output such as our annual lecture and administration of The Orwell Prizes. This role will be predominantly based in our office at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London but days will be flexible at times and may include weekend work and travel.

A full list of duties and responsibilities is included in the job description.

To Apply

To apply, please read the job description (below) and send a CV and covering letter, together with the completed Equal Opportunities form (also below) to by 09.00hrs on Monday 19th March.

Interviews will be held on Thursday 22nd March. Start date: ASAP.

Job Description

Equal Opportunities form

The Orwell Foundation is committed to good practice in the handling of Personal Data and careful compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

Catch up: the Orwell Lecture 2017 with A. L. Kennedy

Catch up with A.L. Kennedy’s 2017 Orwell Lecture, ‘Orwell with women’ on YouTube, courtesy of UCL Arts and Humanities:

Deeply associated with political thinking – and our increasingly rapid descent into newspeak and unhistory – Orwell was also a meticulously close observer of women and placed them at the centre of his imaginative life.

A famously self-contained man, often part of all-male groups, Orwell nevertheless had an enduring and vital relationship with the female. The talk will look at the different threads of this relationship.

A.L. Kennedy

Unreported Britain in Parliament

Today every MP in the House of Commons was sent a copy of Stephen Armstrong’s The New Poverty (Verso) as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released their ‘UK Poverty 2017’ report. Drawing on stories from The Orwell Foundation’s Unreported Britain project, The New Poverty investigates the new contours of want in 21st century Britain.

Unreported Britain is a journalism project which finds stories that are ignored, from communities whose voices are unheard and gives them platform, profile and leverage. We are launching a debate about what we don’t know and why we don’t know it, as well as reflecting back to communities how they see themselves.

Alongside stories in national broadsheets, including the Telegraph and Guardian, Unreported Britain is accompanied by a pilot Unreported Britain podcast in collaboration with The Story. In this podcast, we hear from people on the front-line of the rise of DIY dentistry, including Britons doing their own fillings to avoid NHS bills.

George Orwell at the BBC

On Tuesday 7th November a statue of George Orwell was unveiled in the piazza of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House by Baroness Whitaker and Orwell’s son, Richard Blair. The statue, which is the work of sculptor Martin Jennings, was commissioned and paid for by the George Orwell Memorial Fund.

George Orwell worked for the BBC in 1941-1943 as a Talks Producer on what was then the ‘Eastern Service’, writing and programming what was essentially propaganda for broadcast to the Indian subcontinent at a crucial time during the war. As Orwell was known for being a staunch anti-imperialist, he gave the service a degree of political credibility in the region. After leaving the BBC in 1943, Orwell – whose real name was Eric Blair – wrote his most famous works, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four. 

Director of The Orwell Foundation Professor Jean Seaton spoke after the unveiling of the statue alongside Orwell Fellow Andrew Marr. Professor Seaton said:

Everything Orwell ever wrote is an extended polemic of seeing the truth, however ugly, in ourselves. Perhaps this was a product also of the war. But it seems to me a mark of democratic principle. For Orwell, the breaking down of the barriers between people and nations depended on a shared reality, and that is surely the object of the BBC.

You can read Professor Seaton’s full speech here.

Britain's most prestigious prize for political writing: The Orwell Prize 2018

The Orwell Prize 2018 is now open

The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, awarded to work which comes the closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’The Orwell Foundation awards prizes in three categories:

Entry is free, and there is no limit to the number of entries a publisher or publication can make (or the number of categories an individual may enter). Entries must have a link to the UK or Ireland: see our rules for more details. The Prize is open to fiction, non-fiction and journalism first published in the calendar year 2017.

A full record of previous winners, shortlists and longlists can be found on The Orwell Prize website.

Please be aware: the closing date for the books category, 29th November 2017, is earlier than that of journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils (11th January 2018).

The Orwell Prize for Journalism and The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2018  will close 11th January 2018. 

The Orwell Prize for Books will close on 29th November 2017. 

Announcing the Orwell Lectures 2017: Grayson Perry & A.L. Kennedy

The Orwell Foundation’s flagship lecture – which has attracted notable speakers including Ian Hislop (2016), Dr Rowan Williams (2015) and Dame Hilary Mantel – has been given annually since 1989, originally in Birkbeck and Sheffield, but has recently been held solely in London.

We are delighted to announce that from next month there will once again be two annual Orwell Lectures – the established Orwell Lecture given at University College London, and a new Orwell Lecture in the North, which will take place in Sheffield.

Artist Grayson Perry will deliver the first Orwell Lecture in the North in almost 20 years at the University of Sheffield in November. A new partnership between the Orwell Foundation and the Sir Bernard Crick Centre at the University of Sheffield will see the re-establishment of the prestigious event in the North of England.

The lecture will run alongside an Orwell Youth Prize workshop for young writers. 40 young people will take part in an interactive, discussion-focused writing workshop with author Marina Lewycka, and then have the chance to attend Grayson Perry’s lecture.

In his lecture, titled ‘I’ve read all the academic texts on empathy’, Grayson Perry will give an artist’s view on our emotions around politics and identity.

I am an artist and I am a great believer in the power of culture to communicate in ways that are particular to the arts, a more holistic style of relaying information that talks not only to the intellect but the heart, body and soul as well.

We need to harness and grow this power as a force for good, a force that can bind us in deep and lovely ways we did not even know were happening.


The following week, award-winning author, journalist and stand-up comedian A.L. Kennedy will give the Orwell Lecture at University College London on the subject “Orwell with women”. 

Deeply associated with political thinking – and our increasingly rapid descent into newspeak and unhistory – Orwell was also a meticulously close observer of women and placed them at the centre of his imaginative life. A famously self-contained man, often part of all-male groups, Orwell nevertheless had an enduring and vital relationship with the female. The talk will look at the different threads of this relationship.

Alison (A L) Kennedy is an award-winning author, stand-up comedian, journalist and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. Her fiction includes Day (winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award 2007), The Blue Book and Serious Sweet, as well as the Doctor Who novel The Drosten’s Curse. Among her radio plays are Confessions of a Medium, That I Should Rise and Love Love Love Like The Beatles.


Tickets to the Orwell Lectures are free and open to all. To register, follow the links below. 


The Orwell Lecture in the North 2017

GRAYSON PERRY: I’ve read all the academic texts on empathy 

Wednesday 15 November, 6.30pm

The Octagon Centre, University of Sheffield, Clarkson Street, S10 2TQ


The Orwell Lecture (in London) 2017

A.L. Kennedy : Orwell with women

Tuesday 21 November, 6.30pm

The Gustave Tuck LT, Wilkins Building, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT




The New Poverty

The Orwell Foundation will be hosting a debate to mark the launch of Stephen Armstrong’s The New Poverty (3rd October, Verso). Stephen’s book draws on stories written for Unreported Britain, a project from the Orwell Foundation in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. We ask what role the media has in reporting the stories of people in poverty.

Thu 12 October 2017 | 18:30 – 20:00 BST

The House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, London, W1D 4NQ

Find out more, and book your free ticket here.

Find out more at

Announcing the winners of the Orwell Prize 2017

The Winners of the Orwell Prizes 2017 were announced today at the Orwell Prize Ceremony, held at UCL.

The Orwell Prizes reward the writing that comes closest to achieving English writer George Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing into an art’.

The Winners were presented with their £3000 prize money by Richard Blair, Orwell’s son.

The winner of the Orwell Prize for Books 2017 is Citizen Clem: A Biography of Atlee, by John Bew

Judge Jonathan Derbyshire said:

“Citizen Clem is both a magnificent renewal of the art of political biography and a monument to the greatest leader the Labour party has ever had. It presents us with a man whose socialism was learned, not acquired. Attlee’s career, in John Bew’s telling, is a tribute not to sham consistency or inviolable purity of principle, but to the primacy of politics – what Weber called the ‘slow boring of hard boards’.”

Judge Bonnie Greer commented:

“The timing of The Orwell Prize winner could not be more apt. The political battle in the UK since 1948 has always boiled down to one simple fact: the upholding or the whittling away of what Clem Atlee built. Post-war Britain was literally built by a man who built his own self: a self which was forged by war and the concern for a just and equitable society. ‘Citizen Clem’ will go a long way towards re-balancing the Churchillian narrative that currently dominates us.”

Judge Erica Wagner added:

“A book both magisterial and gripping, this biography of Labour’s unlikely postwar hero offers a portrait of a modest man whose achievement was not modest at all: the building of the modern Welfare State. Revealing both the strength of an individual and the strengths of a society, this is necessary reading in 2017.”

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Books were Jonathan Derbyshire (Executive Comment Editor, Financial Times), playwright and author Bonnie Greer, writer and broadcaster Mark Lawson, and writer and critic Erica Wagner

The winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017 is Fintan O’Toole

O’Toole was selected by the judges for writing in the Irish Times, the Guardian and the Observer.

Dame Liz Forgan, one of the Judges. commented:

“It’s not often that penetrating intelligence, a keen historical understanding and sparkling prose coincide in one journalist. When he is also uniquely placed to write about one of the biggest issues of the day from an unusual but highly important perspective we are all in luck. 

Fintan O’Toole knocks the usual Brexit arguments about City jobs and fruit-pickers into proper shape by focussing eloquently on the existential implications of the referendum for everyone on the island of Ireland.  If only the whole campaign had been conducted with such style and seriousness…”

The judges for the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017 were Dame Liz Forgan, former BBC special correspondent Allan Little and journalist, writer and broadcaster Francis Wheen.

The winner of the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils is Felicity Lawrence

Felicity Lawrence wins the prize for cross-platform reporting of British social issues and public policy for her reporting of migrant gangwork in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The judges of the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2017 commented:

“Felicity Lawrence’s reporting on migrant gangwork in Wisbech represents investigative journalism at its best and was a clear winner in a very strong field. Felicity persistently pursued this story for several months: her report, which includes voices from the whole community, both victims and residents, draws together a wide range of issues relating to organized crime and migrant labour which have significant, urgent resonance for our understanding of social evils in a post-Brexit Britain.” 

The judges for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2017 were Claire Ainsley (Director of Communications and External Affairs, Joseph Rowntree Foundation) journalist and Front Row presenter Samira Ahmed and Professor Julian Le Grand (Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics).

The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Every year, three prizes are awarded to the work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’: the Orwell Prize for Books, Journalism and Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.

The Orwell Prize is awarded by The Orwell Foundation, a registered charity (number 1161563) providing free cultural events and resources for the public benefit.

The Orwell Foundation uses the work of George Orwell to celebrate honest writing and reporting, to uncover hidden lives, to confront uncomfortable truths and, in doing so, to promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth.

The Orwell Prize was founded by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick in its present form in 1993, awarding its first prizes in 1994. The Prize is supported by Political Quarterly, Richard Blair (George Orwell’s son) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The Orwell Foundation is based at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. For more information about the Institute of Advanced Studies and its activities please visit

1984 Live

In order of appearance, the Readers of 1984 Live were:

Richard Blair

George Orwell’s adopted son

Archie Blair

George Orwell’s great-grandson

Gavin Blair

George Orwell’s grandson

Bill Hamilton

Literary Agent. Executor of the Orwell Estate

Harry Mount

Journalist and Editor, The Oldie.

Nicci Gerrard

Writer. Winner of The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2016.

Hugh Levinson

Editor, BBC Radio Current Affairs.

Lord Ken Macdonald QC

Lord Macdonald QC, Chair of The Orwell Foundation and Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords.

Michela Wrong

Journalist, Author and former Foreign Correspondent.

Quentin Kopp

Son of Georges Kopp, Orwell’s commander in the POUM.

Helen Pearson

Editor, Nature journal. Author of The Life Project (2016), longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Arifa Akbar

Journalist and Literary Critic. Curator of M-Fest: A Muslim Festival of Books and Ideas. Deputy Editor of Wasafiri Magazine.

Catherine O’Shaughnessy

George Orwell’s niece.

Peter Ross

Award-Winning Journalist, shortlisted for The Orwell Prize 2015.

Kathy Harvey

Deputy Director, the Orwell Foundation

Liam Wantenaar

Member of the Public

Caroline Criado Perez

Writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. Author of Do it Like a Woman (2015).

Rebecca O’Brien

Producer, most recently “I, Daniel Blake”

Isabel Ogilvie-Smith

Member of the Public

Fatima Al Rayes

Member of the Public

Paul Lay

Editor, History Today.

Peter Hitchens

Journalist, Columnist at the Mail on Sunday. Winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2010.

Gary Younge

Writer and Journalist. Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Hector Parsons

Member of the Public

Lucie Benaiteau

Member of the Public

Anna Wharton

Journalist and Writer, most recently co-author of Cut (2016). Longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Fiammetta Rocco

Editor of Books and Arts, the Economist

Professor Anthony Julius

Solicitor and academic best known for actions on behalf of Princess Diana, Deborah Lipstadt and Heather Mills.

Frances Barber

Award winning theatre actor. Credits include: “Silk”, “Dr Who” & “Antony & Cleopatra”.

Professor Simon Schama

Historian, University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University.

Dr Martin Moore

Director, Centre for the Study of Media, Culture and Power, King’s College London.

Hibo Wardere

Somalian-born campaigner against female genital mutilation (FGM). Author of Cut (2016). Longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017

Gideon Rachman

Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist, Financial Times. Winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2016.

Billy Bragg

Singer-Songwriter and activist. Albums include Talking With the Taxman About Poetry, and Shine a Light with Joe Henry.

D.J. Taylor

Critic, Novelist and Biographer. Author of Orwell (2003) award-winning biography of George Orwell.

Rick Edwards

Television Presenter and author of None of the Above (2015).

Gillian Furlong

Head of Special Collections and Archivist in UCL Library Services

Ruth Dudley-Edwards

Crime fiction writer, Biographer and Historian. Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Mark Adair

Head of Corporate and Community Affairs, BBC Northern Ireland.

John Seaward

Actor. Recent credits include “The Inbetweeners Movie” and “The Philanthropist”.

Ros Wynne Jones

Journalist, creator of The Road to Wigan Pier Project, Daily Mirror. Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2017.

Guy Pewsey

Journalist, London Evening Standard.

Baroness Patience Wheatcroft

Journalist and Conservative Member of the House of Lords. Former Editor-in-Chief of the Wall Street Journal Europe.

David Olusoga

British-Nigerian Writer, Broadcaster and Historian. Author of Black and British, longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Books.

Professor Maya Jasanoff

Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard Univeristy.

Professor John Bew

Professor in History and Foreign Policy at King’s College London. Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Taniya Welmillage

Member of the Public

Ece Temelkuran

Turkish Journalist and Author. Fired as a columnist from Habertürk after writing articles critical of the government.

Hugh Montgomery

Head of Culture, the Daily Telegraph.

Lord Melvyn Bragg

Broadcaster, author and member of the House of Lords, best known for the BBC Radio 4 Programme In Our Time.

Ken Loach

Award-Winning Television and Film Director, most recently I, Daniel Blake.

Nick Cohen

Journalist. Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2017.

Matthew Norman

Writer, Political Commentator and Journalist. Media diarist for The Independent.

Jack Monroe

Writer, Journalist and Activist.

Professor Stella Bruzzi

Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCL.

Mark Ravenhill

Playwright whose work has been produced by the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court Theatre. He lost his virginity in 1984.

Alan Johnson

Former MP for Hull West and Hessle, former Home Secretary and winner of The Orwell Prize for Books 2014.

Dame Harriet Walter

Actor. Most recent work : Boa, Brutus, King Henry and Prospero in the Donmar all-female Shakespeare Trilogy. Recent films include “The Sense of an Ending”. Author of Brutus and Other Heroines.

Guy Paul

Actor. Recent credits include: “Boa”, “Death of a Salesman” and on film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

Salena Godden

Poet, performer and author. Contributor to The Good Immigrant (2016).

Jennifer Lim

Actor and filmmaker. Founding member of British East Asian Artists.

Daniel York Loh

Actor and writer. One of 21 featured essayists in the award-winning The Good Immigrant (2016).

Professor Jean Seaton

Director, The Orwell Foundation

Phyllida Lloyd

Director best known for work in theatre and as the director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady

Neal Ascherson

Scottish journalist and writer. Visiting Professor of Archaeology at UCL.

Samantha Michelle

Canadian actress, filmmaker and DJ with a love for classic literature, soul music, love itself and understanding

Bonnie Greer

American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster. Book judge for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017.

Come on board: the Orwell Foundation is hiring

The Orwell Foundation is recruiting for the role of Programmes Manager.

We are looking for a Programmes Manager to manage the day-to-day running of the Foundation’s activities and the Orwell Youth Prize. The role is predominantly project management and administration. Alongside this, the Programmes Manager is responsible for working with the Director and board of the Orwell Foundation to develop strategy and to build partnerships.  The manager will also work on fundraising and grant applications, and will be the central link between the different strands of the Orwell Foundation’s work.

The responsibilities of the Programmes Manager are broad – from charity administration and events organisation to meeting high profile individuals and organisations. There is much scope for independence and leading your own projects: no two days are the same. The Orwell Foundation has developed enormously in the past three years. This is an opportunity to join a vibrant and ambitious organisation at an exciting time, managing a small team.

The Programmes Manager reports to and works closely with the Director of the Orwell Foundation, the Chair of the Orwell Prize and the Administrator. The Director, Programmes Manager and Administrator work closely with two active Boards of Trustees.

A full list of duties and responsibilities is included in the job description.

There is a possibility of an additional part-time post. Please indicate in your covering letter if you would be interested in this position.

Job Description Programmes Manager May 2017

To Apply

To apply, please read the Job Description and send a CV and Covering Letter, together with the completed Recruitment Questionnaire (found below) to by 23.59hrs on Friday 23rd June.

Successful candidates will be contacted by 7th July 2017.

Interviews will be held during the week of 10th July 2017.

Start date: Tuesday 29th August (latest).

Job Description Programmes Manager May 2017

Recruitment Questionnaire (word)

Recruitment Questionnaire (PDF)