Winners of The Orwell Prize 2023 revealed in a record five categories

Thursday 22 June 2023

From two debut authors to acclaimed journalists, the winners of The Orwell Prize 2023 were announced tonight, Thursday 22nd June in a record five categories at a ceremony at Conway Hall in Central London.

  • The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2023 was awarded to Peter Apps for Show Me the Bodies: How We Let Grenfell Happen (Oneworld), on the many failures which led to the Grenfell Tower fire.
  • The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2023 was awarded to Tom Crewe for his novel The New Life (Chatto & Windus) which tells the story of the struggle to change the law around homosexuality in 1890s Britain.
  • The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2023 was jointly awarded to Shanti Das, for a series investigating modern slavery in the UK care sector and Mark Townsend, for reporting on the mass kidnapping of children from Home Office care. Both investigations were published in The Observer.
  • The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023 was awarded to Gary Younge, whose entry included essays and a podcast on race and inequality in Britain on We Are Unedited and in the New Statesman and The Guardian.
  • The inaugural Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness, sponsored by the Centre for Homelessness Impact, was awarded jointly to Daniel Lavelle and Freya Marshall Payne for reporting drawing on their own experiences of rough sleeping and hidden homelessness. 

The Bernard Crick Prize – for the best essay in The Political Quarterly – was also awarded last night to Michael Collins for his article ‘Cricket, Englishness and Racial Thinking‘. In addition to their prizes, all Orwell Prize winners receive free subscriptions to PQ, which addresses current issues through serious and thought-provoking articles, written in clear jargon-free English.

A number of entries were also highly commended: for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, the photographer Craig Easton; for Journalism, Paul Caruana Galizia and Katie Gunning (Tortoise Media); and for Reporting Homelessness, Jack Simpson (Inside Housing) and Carolyn Atkinson (BBC Radio 4).

The Orwell Prizes aim to encourage good writing and thinking about politics, with judges asked to find winning entries which meet Orwell’s own ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. You can find out more about each winner by following the individual links above.

Since The Orwell Prize was awarded for the first time in 1994 the original categories for books and journalism have been complemented by individual awards showcasing writing and reporting which draws on the full range of Orwell’s contemporary legacy: for Political Fiction, for social reporting and, in 2023, for Reporting Homelessness. Each Prize is worth £3,000 to the winner.

Shortlists in all five categories were announced earlier this year.

The shortlist for The Orwell Youth Prize 2023 was also announced today, with 43 young writers nominated for their writing in a range of genres, from short stories to journalism, inspired by this year’s theme ‘Who’s in Control?’. All shortlisted writers have been invited to our Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day at University College London on Saturday 8th July, where they will take part in creative writing workshops with professional writers, and share their work with an audience, before the announcement of the winners and runners up.

Ahead of the announcements, Polina Ivanova, a 2022 Orwell Prize finalist and foreign correspondent for the FT, spoke about the ongoing detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Gershkovich, who had attended last year’s Orwell Prize ceremony with Ivanova, was arrested in Russia in March 2023 on espionage charges. Guests were encouraged to write their own messages of support to Evan, whose appeal against further detention was rejected on Thursday.

We would like to express our gratitude to all of this year’s judges, our founding patron Richard Blair, core sponsors The Political Quarterly and Prize sponsors the Centre for Homelessness Impact and A. M. Heath, as well as all the Foundation’s Friends and Patrons for making these awards possible. Find out more about how you can join them in supporting our work by becoming a Friend or Patron here. The Orwell Prize will return in 2024.

This year’s awards were judged by eighteen writers, journalists and thinkers across four panels:

The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023 and the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2023 were judged by the same panel, comprising of award-winning journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Chair); Katy Balls, political editor of The Spectator; Kurt Barling, professor of journalism at Middlesex University; Lindsey Hilsum, international editor for Channel 4 News; and Ed Thomas, special correspondent at BBC News.

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2023 are: Alice Bell, head of climate and health policy at Wellcome; Kojo Koram, historian, academic and Orwell Prize 2022 finalist; Martha Lane Fox (Chair), businesswoman, philanthropist and peer; Cristina Odone, journalist and editor; and Sukhdev Sandhu, writer and critic.

The judges for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2023 are: Alison Flood, comment and culture editor at the New Scientist; Julia Jordan, Associate Professor of 20th Century English Literature at UCL; Tomiwa Owolade, contributing editor at the New Statesman; and Boyd Tonkin (Chair), journalist, editor and writer who was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal in 2020 for outstanding service to literature over the course of a career.

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness 2023 are: Alan Rusbridger (Chair), distinguished editor and journalist; John Bird MBE, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Big Issue magazine and crossbench peer; Leanna Fairfax, Lived Experiences Associate at the Centre for Homelessness Impact; and award winning journalist and presenter Sangita Myska.