Poverty and Homelessness

This is a suggested reading list to tie in with our production Orwell’s Down and Out: Live.  If you have any suggestions for titles that should be included, please get in touch. The focus here is primarily, but not exclusively, poverty, homelessness and rough-sleeping in the UK and France in the modern era.

We’re also featuring quotes from Orwell’s writing on poverty and homelessness on our Orwell Quotes Twitter account. And remember, many resources – including essays by and about Orwell – are available on our website by selecting ‘Orwell’ on the menu above you. 

George Orwell on poverty, homelessness and rough sleeping

Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)

The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)

Many of Orwell’s essays are available for free on the Orwell Foundation website, courtesy of the Orwell Estate. Of particular relevance are:

The Orwell Diaries, a Webby nominated project 

Orwell: The Life by D.J. Taylor


The New Poverty, by Stephen Armstrong

  • Stephen Armstrong’s The New Poverty (Verso, 2017), which examines the new contours of want in the UK and tells the story of some of society’s most vulnerable people, draws on reporting from the Orwell Foundation’s Unreported Britain project.

Poverty Safari, by Darren McGarvey

  • Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize 2018

Big Capital, by Anna Minton

  • Anna Minton was longlisted for The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2018

The Road to Wigan Pier: Revisited, by Stephen Armstrong

Hard Work, by Polly Toynbee

Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain, by James Bloodworth

A Street Cat Named Bob, by James Bowen

Stuart: A Life Backwards, by Alexander Masters

A Girl Called Jack, by Jack Monroe

Ground Control, by Anna Minton

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, by WH Davies

The Grass Arena, by John Healy

Tell Them Who I Am, by Elliot Liebow

The Lady in the Van, by Alan Bennett

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance


The End of Eddy, by Édouard Louis (2018, trns. Michael Lucey)

Hard Times, by Charles Dickens (1854)

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens (1838)

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (1847)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1895)

Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys (1939)

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (1939)

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga (2008)

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)


Songs My Enemy Taught Me, by Joelle Taylor

How You Might Know Me, by Sabrina Mahfouz

Let Them Eat Chaos, by Kate Tempest

Illuminations, by Arthur Rimbaud

The Bean Eaters, by Gwendolyn Brooks

Young adult and children’s

Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson

The Bed and Breakfast Kid, by Jacqueline Wilson

Skellig, by David Almond

Stone Cold, by Robert Swindells

Warehouse, by Keith Gray

The Girl In Between, by Sarah Carroll