Merry Christmas

Friday 16 December 2011

In our last newsletter of 2011, we’d like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! Our Orwell archive has a festive sprinkling of Christmas cheer – there’s the script of a special Christmas edition of his radio poetry magazine, Voice, with carols and Christmas poems. You can try Orwell’s Christmas pudding recipe for yourself, or read about Alex Renton’s experience of cooking it in The Guardian or The Times(£). More Scrooge-like, perhaps, is ‘Can socialists be happy?’, a 1943 Tribune piece by ‘John Freeman’ attributed to Orwell. Brand new to our site is Orwell’s essay, ‘Marrakech’, published in the 1939 Christmas edition of New Writing and based on Orwell’s recuperation in Morocco (where he spent Christmas 1938). Looking back over the year, it’s been a busy one (as ever) for the Prize, with events at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, the Buxton Festival and The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, as well as our longlist (blogging) and shortlist (monarchy) debates and awards ceremony, the 2012 Prize’s launch debate (on the riots) and this year’s Orwell Lecture (Alan Rusbridger on phone-hacking). And while the 2008 Journalism Prize was withdrawn, we were delighted to name three new Orwell Prize winners from three very strong longlists and a great field of entries: the late Tom Bingham for The Rule of Law, Jenni Russell for her journalism in the Sunday Times and The Guardian, and Graeme Archer for his ConservativeHome blogging. Best wishes for Christmas, and for 2012, from all at the Prize.

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

The journalist and writer, Christopher Hitchens, died last night at the age of 62. Peter Hitchens, winner of the Orwell Prize, has written about his brother’s death. Christopher was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2011, for his memoir Hitch-22 (the first chapter of which you can read on our site). He was also a huge fan of George Orwell: his introduction to Animal Farm can be found in Harvill Secker’s latest edition of Animal Farm and Arguably, his collection of essays; his Why Orwell Matters (or Orwell’s Victory) assessed Orwell’s work and his legacy; and he also wrote about Orwell’s list of communists(£), Orwell and ‘Fleet Street’s finest’ and Orwell’s advice on making tea, and debated Orwell with John Rodden on video.

Entries now OPEN

The Orwell Prize 2012 is now OPEN for entries. Entry forms for all three prize, and basic details of the entry process, are available on our ‘How to Enter’ page. You can also check out the full rules and the values of the Prize, or learn more about the judges. Entries close on 18 January 2012, for all work first published in 2011. The Prize is self-nominating, but if you think there’s someone who should enter, either encourage them to do so or get in touch. Good luck!

Nineteen Eighty-Four at Foyles

The Foyles Café at Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road is currently exhibiting some of Aleks Krotoski’s photographs inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aleks spent just over a year telling the first 369 words of the novel, one word at a time, in photographs. You can see the full set of images on her Flickr stream, and you can buy some of the images via her online storeMore on the novel on our site. And more news on the exhibition soon…

From the archive

Orwell’s ‘In Defence of English Cooking’ was first published this week (on Thursday) in 1945. It’s one of a number of pieces by Orwell on food and drink: there’s also his unpublished ‘British Cookery’ (1946) which features recipes for Welsh rarebit, Yorkshire pudding, treacle tart, orange marmalade, plum cake and Christmas pudding; further recipes for sponge cake and fruit loaf from his Wigan Pier diary, and for sour milk from his 1938-42 ones; and his essays on ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ and ‘The Moon Under Water’, and a review of a Mass Observation report called The Pub and the People. And if all of that hasn’t sated your appetite, there’s a lovely review of Orwell and food by Sophie Mackenzie. Another essay celebrating its 66th birthday this week (on Wednesday) was ‘The Sporting Spirit’. The essay begins with the visit of the Dynamo Moscow football team to the UK – including their match with Glasgow Rangers, of which British Pathé has a newsreel. You can also read Orwell editor Peter Davison on ‘Orwell and Sport’.

From elsewhere

The Wartime Diaries

The next entry will be published on 14th March.

The Hop-Picking Diaries

The final entry was published on 8th October.

The Wigan Pier Diaries

The final entry was published on 25th March. If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on or follow us on Twitter. And you can subscribe to this newsletter via email.