Orwell Prize to blog George Orwell’s Wigan Pier diaries

Monday 31 January 2011

  • Diary entries to be posted 75 years after they were written
  • Orwell Prize 2011 receives record number of entries

The Orwell Prize, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, is to blog George Orwell’s diary from his journey to Wigan Pier. Each entry will be posted exactly 75 years to the day since it was written, at http://theroadtowiganpier.wordpress.com. Although The Road to Wigan Pier was published in March 1937, Orwell made the journey north between January and March 1936. His diary begins in Coventry on 31st January 1936, and ends in Mapplewell, near Barnsley, on 25th March 1936. The blog will allow readers to follow Orwell’s journey in real-time. The project hopes to repeat the success of the Orwell Diaries blog (http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com), which has been ‘post-blogging’ Orwell’s wartime diaries from 70 years ago. The blog started in 2008 (1938), and will finish in 2012 (1942). The site was nominated for a Webby Award in 2009. Jean Seaton, Director of the Orwell Prize, said: ‘For the first time since he wrote it 75 years ago follow Orwell as he makes the journey to Wigan Pier day by day, place by place. ‘The diary he kept was the basis for the book that changed how we (and he) thought about poverty. But the diary shows you how the writer and the investigative journalist assembled evidence as he went. It gives you an insight into how he thought – and the condition of England in the grip of an economic recession.’ The Orwell Prize 2011 has now closed for submissions. A record-equalling 212 record-breaking 213 books, and record-breaking 87 journalists and 206 205 bloggers have entered this year’s Book Prize, Journalism Prize and Blog Prize. A full list of entrants is now available on the Orwell Prize website. This year’s judges are Jim Naughtie (BBC Radio 4 Today), Ursula Owen (founder of Virago Press, Free Word), Will Skidelsky (books editor, The Observer) for the Book Prize; Martin Bright (political editor, Jewish Chronicle) and Michela Wrong (previously shortlisted author and journalist) for the Journalism Prize; and David Allen Green (previously shortlisted, legal blogger ‘Jack of Kent’) and Gaby Hinsliff (former political editor, The Observer) for the Blog Prize. This year’s longlists will be announced on 30th March 2011 and the shortlists on 26th April 2011. The winners, each of whom will receive £3000, will be announced at an awards ceremony at Church House, Westminster on 18th 17th May 2011.