Newsletter: Orwell and the Oligarchs – watch the Orwell Lecture

Friday 03 December 2010

We’ve now uploaded the full video of this year’s Orwell Lecture, ‘Orwell and the Oligarchs’, given by Ferdinand Mount. Ferdy – a former Orwell Prize judge (2009), former head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, former editor of the Times Literary Supplement and novelist and author – drew heavily on Orwell’s work on James Burnham, influential political theorist and author of The Managerial Revolution. You can read one of Orwell’s essays on Burnham, ‘Second Thoughts on James Burnham’, on our website. Birkbeck College – who have organised the annual lecture in conjunction with the Orwell Trust since the 1980s – have a list of previous Orwell lecturers, while we have video of Hilary Mantel’s 2009 lecture (on Thomas Cromwell) and Andrew O’Hagan’s 2008 lecture (on the English), and a transcript of Michael Rosen’s 2007 lecture (‘Orwell’s contribution to the questions of how we read and what reading is for’).

Entries OPEN

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 friends over at Finlay Publisher have just published an extract from Dominic Cavendish’s excellent lecture, Coming Up for Air revisited – Orwell, England and the idea of escape’. You can watch video of the full lecture, first given at the George Orwell Conference in Lille earlier this year, on our site. Dominic has adapted Coming Up for Air, a scene from 1984 and ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant’ for the stage – his thoughts on adapting Orwell are at WhatsOnStage, while actor Alan Cox performs Dominic’s adaptation of one of Orwell’s preparatory works for Burmese Days on our website. Earlier this week, we tweeted a link to Orwell’s review of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, a dystopian novel which influenced Orwell in writing 1984. You can read Orwell’s review, ‘Freedom and Happiness’, in our ‘By Orwell’ section, and you can also read Paul Owen’s Guardian piece on the similarity between the two works (and whether it matters), which is linked from our ‘About Orwell’ section.

The Orwell Diaries

Next week, diary entries will be published on 8th December. Last week, diary entries were published on 28th November and 1st December. 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.