The Orwell Foundation exists to perpetuate the achievements of the British writer George Orwell (1903-1950). In a relatively brief career, cut short by illness, Orwell wrote six novels, two of which, Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), have had a profound influence on the post-war world. His non-fiction includes The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), an account of his travels through the Depression-era north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), which records his experiences fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. As well as believing in the moral power of language, Orwell understood the dangers that accompany its corruption. His work transcends the immediate circumstances in which it was conceived and is uniquely relevant to the social, political and economic landscapes of the twenty-first century.
An independently registered charity, governed by a board of trustees, the Orwell Foundation brings together a wide range of expertise and experience, including distinguished public servants, writers, academics and Orwell scholars. The current chair of trustees is Ken Macdonald QC, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, while the Director, since 2007, is Professor Jean Seaton of the Westminster School of Media and Communication.
Whether through the prestigious Orwell Prizes, awarded each year to the books and journalism which best meet Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’, or the growing number of Orwell-related activities which take place under its auspices – from events, lectures and dramatised live-readings to the Orwell Fellowship of writers and journalists – the Foundation aims to use Orwell’s work to celebrate honest writing and reporting, uncover hidden lives and confront uncomfortable truths – and, in doing so, to promote Orwell’s values of integrity, decency and fidelity to truth. Through this work we hope to to connect with the many different constituencies to whom Orwell and his writings are a source of inspiration, from policy-makers and politicians to students and schoolchildren, and to offer a platform for debate and discussion designed to appeal to the widest possible public audience. As the only website officially sanctioned by the Orwell Estate, we also publish work by George Orwell (including our Webby-shortlisted Orwell Diaries blog), articles about Orwell and maintain a regularly updated library of online resources.
Nearly seventy years after his death, Orwell has never been more relevant to the world we inhabit. In myriad ways, the terrain of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its bureaucratic obfuscations, its surveillance culture and its denial of objective truth, can seem uncomfortably close to our own. From the corruption of the media to pervasive new technologies, and from poverty and inequality to the rise of political extremism, his concerns are as germane to the twenty-first century as they were to the circumstances in which his great novels were conceived. We are hard at work to sustain this remarkable legacy.
- The Orwell Youth Prize, an independent charity under the Foundation’s auspices
- UCL Archives: Orwell Archive
- The Orwell Digital Archive
- The Orwell Society, an independent, worldwide membership society
- George Orwell at the BBC