Young writers celebrated at The Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day

Tuesday 11 July 2023

This Saturday 8th July, thirty-four young writers travelled to University College London from across the UK and as far away as Hong Kong to celebrate their outstanding entries, share their work and create new surrealist-inspired poetry at The Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day.

After a welcome from Orwell Foundation Deputy Director Liz Wallace and Orwell Youth Prize coordinator Tabby Hayward, the day began with a creative writing workshop with Ondaatje Prize-winning poet Anthony Anaxagorou, who also discussed his own journey to becoming a published poet. In the afternoon, the entrants presented their work and received their prizes, which included a Penguin edition of Orwell’s essays and The Orwell Youth Fellow’s Zine Axial Tilt for every writer, before the overall winners were announced in two categories.

The Celebration Day marked the culmination of The Orwell Youth Prize’s busy annual events programme. Earlier in the year, over two hundred young people in the North East and West Midlands came together for our Regional Hub events at the University of Sunderland and Coventry University for unique days of creative writing and journalism workshops inspired by the theme ‘Who’s in Control?’, supported by public funding from Arts Council England. We were delighted to welcome several Regional Hub participants back to UCL on Saturday.

The judges of The Orwell Youth Prize 2023 were Orwell Prize-winning author, Delia Jarrett-Macauley; Financial Times Global Education Editor, Andrew Jack; the BBC’s Disinformation and Social Media Correspondent, Marianna Spring; and Forward Prize-winning poet, Will Harris.

Chair of Judges, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, said:

We thoroughly enjoyed reading this year’s submissions for the OYP and were impressed by the range of unusual stories, poems, essays and scripts tackling the theme ‘Who’s in Control’. It was rewarding to discover so many well-executed pieces, and we were impressed by your creativity and original ideas. Keep writing! And congratulations to all.

George Orwell’s son Richard Blair, Founding Patron of The Orwell Foundation, also recorded a personal message for the entrants, congratulating them on their achievement and encouraging them to keep writing – and to keep reading Orwell.

All the winners and runners up of The Orwell Youth Prize 2023 are now available to read on The Orwell Foundation website.

Photo credit Facundo Arrizabalaga


The Orwell Youth Prize 2023: Who’s in Control?

At a time when so many issues affecting young people, from education to the cost of living, feel out of control, and when it can be hard to know who or what to believe, we asked our entrants to think and write creatively about the theme ‘Who’s in Control?’.

Over 500 young writers responded in the form of essays, poetry, short fiction, journalism, and video game designs. The standard was once again incredibly high, so much so that our selectors chose forty-three outstanding pieces to go forward to the judges.

Our volunteer readers also delivered over 400 pieces of feedback, ensuring that every entrant who requested it had a personal response to their work and the benefit of writing advice and inspiration from our network of professional writers, academics and publishing professionals.

The winners and runners up will also be invited to join The Orwell Youth Fellows, a collective of young writers starting conversations and developing new writing that is responsive to our changing world – and supporting other young people to engage with the prize. Find out more about The Orwell Youth Fellows on The Orwell Foundation website.

About The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize is a national writing prize for young people aged 12-18 from across the UK. Far more than just a prize, each year’s theme is inspired by the writings of George Orwell, whilst encouraging young people to think critically and creatively about the world around them and issues which matter today.

The programme is free to enter and participants can submit writing in any form. Alongside its exciting hub events, the Youth Prize also provides free writing resources for individual entrants and teachers. All entrants are also offered personalized feedback on a first draft.

For more information/images, or to find out more about using The Orwell Youth Prize in your school, please contact Tabby Hayward at