Next generation of political writers attend inspirational Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day

Thursday 07 July 2016

The Orwell Youth Prize Celebrated a successful year of workshops and over 100 prize entrants at a day-long event on Friday 24th June. Prizes were awarded to young writers who had submitted entries inspired by Orwell’s words: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

  • Over 150 guests attended the Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day 2016 at Pembroke College, Oxford
  • Day celebrates a year of workshops in schools, and the achievements of over 100 entrants aged 14 – 18
  • Some of the country’s best journalists and writers were present to give workshops and seminars to the students in attendance.
  • TV presenter Rick Edwards chaired debate on young people and voting in the wake of the EU referendum
  • Six winners announced


Over 150 young people and their guests and teachers travelled from schools across the country to Pembroke College at the University of Oxford for the day, at which TV presenter Rick Edwards chaired a debate on young people and voting, and journalists and writers Delia Jarrett-Macaulay, Iona Craig, Tom Sperlinger and Louise Tickle led seminars on writing and the experiences and processes behind their work.


Over 100 young people entered pieces into the writing prize, and those who requested it were provided with bespoke feedback on their drafts. Alongside the winners, 13 runners up received prizes, and 14 young people were highly commended.

The entries ranged from spoken word poetry about race and racism and an essay about the education system in the lower age category to essays about ‘No Platforming’ and disability benefit in the older age category.

841A2344The winners were chosen by judge Amelia Gentleman, social affairs writer for the Guardian and winner of the Orwell Prize for political writing, and Professor Jean Seaton, chair of the Orwell Prize and Official BBC Historian. Amelia Gentleman said “There was a wide and wonderfully imaginative interpretation of the brief by entrants. It was exciting to read the entries. The energy and ambition of those who took part was striking. Some of the winning entries were provocative, others were startlingly original; all were fascinating to read”

841A2023Mick Callanan, Delivery Director, said The talk in workshops all around the country, with students as young as Year 9 and as ready-to-leave as Year 13, has been a model, in its combination of careful listening, logical reasoning and deeply held beliefs…One of the great pleasures of running the workshops was hearing the initial ideas of young people – and then seeing them re-work and redraft to get it ‘just right’.  Our entrants have striven to think deeply about the theme, deeply about their world and deeply about themselves.  Orwell would, I dare guess, be proud of the intellectual and thoughtful England to which they aspire”





  1. The Orwell Youth Prize is a registered charity (no. 1156494) under the auspices of the Orwell Prize. The Orwell Prize (registered charity no. 1161563) is the UK’s most prestigious prize for political writing.
  2. The Orwell Youth Prize aims to support and inspire a new generation of politically engaged young writers through workshops, debates, online resources and the awarding of prizes.
  3. 114 young people entered the Orwell Youth Prize in 2016.
  4. In 2015 – 2016, The Orwell Youth Prize delivered 24 workshops in schools across the country.
  5. Writers and journalists who have given workshops this year include Alison Holt (BBC), Mark Townsend (The Guardian), Rebecca Omonira ( and James Ball (Buzzfeed).