Orwell Prize to Blog Orwell’s Hop-Picking Diary

Wednesday 24 August 2011

  • Each entry to be posted 80 years to the day after it was written
  • Prize’s final diary project, after success of 1938-42 diaries and The Road to Wigan Pier diary

The Orwell Prize, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, launches its Hop-Picking Diary blog today, Thursday, 25th August. ‘Post-blogging’ the diary George Orwell kept while tramping in London and hop-picking in Kent between August and October 1931, each diary entry will be published as a blogpost, 80 years to the day since it was first written. Hop-picking was a tradition where urban workers would head to the countryside to harvest hops, one of the main ingredients in beer. Orwell used his experiences in his second novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), and for a 1931 New Statesman and Nation essay, ‘Hop-picking’, which can be read on our website. The Hop-Picking Diary blog is the third, and final, blog of the Orwell Prize’s Orwell Diaries project. It follows the original 1938-1942 diary blog, nominated for a Webby Award in 2009 and due to publish its final entry in November 1942/2012, and The Road to Wigan Pier diary blog, publishing Orwell’s diary entries from his journey to the north of England between January and March 1936/2011. Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell Prize, said: “The people are desperately poor, and they live unrecognised lives cheek by jowl with the better-off who simply do not even see them. The economy is failing, and there is little hope of any improvement. They resort to criminality, and their lives are stunted by their circumstances. “Walk beside, and share the thoughts and intrepid curiosity of George Orwell, one of our greatest writers and journalists, as he journeys out with the poor working class hop-pickers of Kent. Day by day, in real time, share his developing understanding.” Gavin Freeguard, deputy director of the Orwell Prize and editor of the project, said: “We hope we’ve made Orwell’s work more accessible, by bringing his diaries to public attention, making them available to anyone with internet access, and publishing them a day at a time – reading each entry as it unfolds is a very different experience from racing through them in a book. And the internet gives us access to a wealth of supporting tools and material, whether it’s being able to map Orwell’s progress or link to videos of hop-pickers. “The days of Orwell’s diary may be numbered, but we hope readers will continue to use the blogs to learn about Orwell and the history he records.” The diary entries remain under copyright, and are reproduced by kind permission of the Orwell Estate and Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, and Penguin Books. The hop-picking blog has been made possible through transcriptions by Lucy Snow. The Orwell Prize 2012 will open for entries in late October 2011. ENDS Notes to editors 1. The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Every year, prizes are awarded to the work – for the book, for the journalism and for the blog – which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Each Prize is worth £3000. 2. The Prize was founded by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick in its present form in 1993, awarding its first prizes in 1994. The Media Standards Trust, Political Quarterly and Orwell Trust are partners in running the Prize, through the Council of the Orwell Prize. Richard Blair (Orwell’s son), A. M. Heath and Thomson Reuters are sponsors. 3. For further information, please contact the deputy director, Gavin Freeguard, at gavin.freeguard@mediastandardstrust.org, or on 0207 229 5722.