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

Thursday 12 October 2017

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