Friday 17 December 2010
We’d like to wish you a very merry Christmas, and best wishes for a prosperous 2011. Many thanks for supporting us this year! But before this newsletter takes a break over the festive season, we have a few Christmas gifts for you from the pen of George Orwell:
- While at the BBC, Orwell wrote and presented a series called ‘Voice’, a monthly poetry magazine broadcast to India. In 1942, Orwell and his fellow contributors put together a Christmas special, covering hymns as well as poems. You can read the script on our website.
- Writing for Tribune in 1943 (as ‘John Freeman’), Orwell asked, ‘Can Socialists Be Happy?’ According to Orwell, the thought of Christmas ‘raises almost automatically the thought of Charles Dickens’, since he is one of the few to have written about the festival and is ‘almost unique, among modern writers in being able to give a convincing picture of happiness’. Read it here.
- As part of his (unpublished) 1946 essay on ‘British Cookery’, Orwell shared his Christmas pudding recipe, and a recipe for plum cake, ‘eaten by everyone in Britain at Christmas time, though not often at other times of the year’. Merry Christmas!
Entries for this year’s Prize are now open. You can download entry forms for the Book and Journalism Prizes, enter the Blog Prize using the online form, and read the rules and regulations and values of the Prize in full in our ‘How to enter’ section. Entries close on 19th January 2011. Books, journalism and blogs published in 2010, and which have a clear relationship with the UK or Ireland, are eligible. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
From the archive – our year in review
This year’s longlists – of 18 books, 14 journalists and 14 bloggers – were announced way back in March, with the shortlists (6 books, 7 journalists, 6 bloggers) following in April. The shortlists were announced at a rather sparky debate, ‘has the political class been fatally weakened?’, and you can read extracts from the shortlisted books, as well as the shortlisted journalism and shortlisted blogposts in full, on our website. You can also watch three of our shortlisted journalists – John Arlidge, Amelia Gentleman and Peter Hitchens – talk to Paddy O’Connell about their shortlisted pieces. The winners of this year’s Orwell Prizes were announced in May. They were Andrea Gillies, for her book, Keeper (Short Books); Peter Hitchens, for his foreign reporting in the Mail on Sunday; and ‘Winston Smith’, for his blog, ‘Working with the Underclass’. Documentary-maker, Norma Percy, was awarded a Special Prize. We continued to build up our events programme this year. At the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, we ran discussions on ‘how free should free speech be?’, ‘the economy – what next?’, ‘the future of policing’, ‘the future of Great Britain’, ‘how do we stop torture – again?’, ‘the future of Burma’, ‘how intelligent are our intelligence services?’, ‘Orwell and Waugh’ and ‘what is the BBC for?’ We also had screenings, followed by question and answer sessions, with the producers of Dispatches: Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone and George Orwell: A Life in Pictures, and took an event to Oxford a few weeks before the festival, ‘what can’t you speak about in the 21st century?’ At the Buxton Festival, Orwell Prize winner Andrea Gillies was in conversation with her publisher, Rebecca Nicolson, and Davids Aaronovitch and Taylor represented Orwell against Lucinda Hawksley and Michael Slater for Dickens in our Orwell vs Dickens debate. There was also the 2011 Orwell Prize launch debate (on poverty and the Spending Review), the Orwell Lecture (given by Ferdinand Mount), a discussion on Orwell and Russia, and our first political writers in schools pilot, while we also filmed the first French George Orwell conference, Peter Davison’s valedictory lecture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival (and interviewed him separately about Orwell: A Life in Letters), and an interview with MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist Akala. Phew. We relaunched our website, adding links to more resources about Orwell and more work by the man himself (including first chapters of all his books), with plenty more to come next year. And while our Orwell Diaries blog has continued to chronicle life in wartime London, keep an eye out for some more diary news in the New Year.
Taiwan’s Tunghai University is hosting a conference, ‘George Orwell: Asian and Global Perspectives’, on 21 May 2011. For more details, see the Call for Papers on our website. The controversial 1954 BBC TV production of Nineteen Eighty-Four is now on YouTube.
The Orwell Diaries
The next Orwell diary entry will be published on 29th December. If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter. And you can subscribe to this newsletter via email.