Bill Browder to deliver The Orwell Lecture 2023

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder will deliver this year’s Orwell Memorial Lecture on the topic “In Front of Your Nose: Putin, Russia and What We Failed to See”.

The lecture, which is a public event, will take place at 19.30 on Wednesday 22nd November at University College London, home of the Orwell Archive. The evening is generously sponsored by Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son and Founding Patron of The Orwell Foundation.

The Orwell Memorial Lecture has been given annually since 1989, in memory of the author, essayist, and journalist George Orwell, and has attracted notable speakers including Ian McEwan, Dame Hilary Mantel, Daniel Finkelstein and Ruth Davidson MSP. Speakers are tasked with discussing any topic ‘Orwell might have been interested in’.

Registration is now open, with concessions available.


Bill Browder

William Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was denied entry to the country and declared “a threat to national security” for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. In 2008, Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials that involved the theft of US $230 million of state taxes. Sergei testified against state officials involved in this fraud and was subsequently arrested, imprisoned without trial and systematically tortured. He spent a year in prison under horrific detention conditions, was repeatedly denied medical treatment, and died in prison on November 16, 2009, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Since then, Mr. Browder has sought justice outside of Russia and started a global campaign for governments around the world to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and highly corrupt officials. The United States was the first to impose these targeted sanctions with the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Accountability Act in 2012, followed by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act in 2016.

Canada, the United Kingdom, the Baltic states, the European Union and most recently Australia have all since passed their own versions of the Magnitsky Act. Mr. Browder is currently working to have similar legislation passed in other countries worldwide.

George Orwell and The Orwell Foundation

George Orwell (1903-1950) is one of the world’s most influential writers, the visionary author of Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and eyewitness, non-fiction classics Down and Out in Paris in London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia. In Animal Farm, Orwell sought to alert readers around the world to the reality of totalitarianism in Soviet Russia, at a time when many people in the West found it more convenient to look the other way.

The Orwell Foundation uses Orwell’s works to celebrate honest writing and reporting, uncover hidden lives, confront uncomfortable truths and encourage all young people to write and think creatively and critically. Through our prestigious prizes for books and journalism, public events and work with young writers, we offer a platform for debate and discussion designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, connecting with everyone to whom George Orwell and his writings are a source of inspiration.

The Orwell Memorial Lecture takes place each year at UCL, home of the UNESCO-registered Orwell Archive, the most comprehensive body of research material relating to the author’s life anywhere. The Orwell Foundation is based at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies.

A full record of previous lectures, including videos and transcripts where available can be found on The Orwell Foundation website.

Join The Orwell Foundation as a Friend or Patron

By joining The Orwell Foundation as a Friend or Patron you can take part in a growing community of supporters dedicated to promoting and furthering George Orwell’s legacy. You’ll also receive free tickets and priority booking to selected Foundation events, like the annual lecture, alongside other benefits. Find out more here.