FAQs

Here you can find the answers to some frequently asked questions. Please contact us if your question is not answered here.

What are the Orwell Prizes and what do they aim to do?

The Orwell Prizes are Britain’s most prestigious prizes for political writing. Every year, we award prizes for the work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. But we do much more: The Orwell Foundation, which awards the prizes, is a registered charity (number 1161563) dedicated to promoting public understanding of and interest in politics and current affairs through free public events and various other projects. As the only website officially sanctioned by the Orwell Estate, we also publish work by George Orwell (including our Webby-shortlisted Orwell Diaries blog) and articles about Orwell as well as other online resources.

Note: The Orwell Foundation is distinct from, but works closely with, the Orwell Estate, The Orwell Society, and The Orwell Trust.

How many awards are there?

At the moment, the Foundation awards four Prizes:

  • The Orwell Prize for Political Writing
  • The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
  • The Orwell Prize for Journalism
  • The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils

The Orwell Prize for Books and the Orwell Prize for Journalism have been awarded since 1993.

The Prize for Political Fiction is sponsored by the Orwell estate’s literary agents A. M. Heath and Orwell’s son Richard Blair, and was awarded for the first time in 2019.

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils is sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and was awarded for the first time in 2014. The Prize is for reporting on social issues in the UK that is communicated across at least two platforms.

What do winners receive?

Every year, the Foundation awards £12,000 in Prize money. Winners of each Orwell Prize receive £3,000 and a unique trophy designed and made by students in the design department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Who can enter?

Someone involved in the creation of the work must be responsible for entering it. This may be the author, publisher, agent, editor or a representative thereof.

All entries for either book prize must be first published, or published simultaneously, in the UK or Ireland.

All entries for the Orwell Prize for Journalism must have a clear link to the UK or Ireland. This includes, but is not limited to, citizenship of the author, residence of the author, place of first publication and work that is produced as a foreign correspondent for a British or Irish publication.

All entries for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils must be a story concerned with public policy and/or social issues in the United Kingdom.

The Orwell Prizes are for work published in the year preceding that of the Prize. For example, the Orwell Prize 2019 is for work first published in the calendar year 2018.

We accept e-books.

Unfortunately, we do not accept edited collections, anthologies, poetry, works in translation or revised editions of work that has been published earlier.

Read our full list of rules.

How much does it cost to enter?

Nothing! Entry is free. Publishers who are shortlisted for either book prize are asked to make a contribution of £150 to the cost of the production and distribution of marketing material. Unlike industry awards, we have no entry fees and you don’t have to pay for a table to attend our Prize Ceremony.

When does the Prize Ceremony take place?

The Prize Ceremony usually takes place on or around 25th June, George Orwell’s birthday.

Who are the judges? How does the judging process work?

We aim to be open and transparent about how our judges are appointed and how the judging process takes place.

Judges are appointed each year. The judges are appointed by the Director and administrators, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. See this year’s judges. For more information about how judges are chosen, please see our external guidelines. Judges are independent. They are asked to put aside their own political preferences, and consider the entries solely on how far they meet the Prize criteria.

The judges decide on a longlist, which is announced in March. The shortlist and finally the winner are then selected from the longlist. Shortlists are usually announced in April. Longlists and shortlists are announced in our newsletter, on our website, via social media and our media partners.

How do I enter?

The Orwell Prizes are for work published in the year preceding that of the Prizes. For example, the Orwell Prize 2019 is for work first published in the calendar year 2018.

Read our full rules.

Calls for Entries go out in October-November and submissions are made through the website. Please note that entry periods may vary across the Prizes. Enter the Prize.

Can we submit multiple entries?

Yes. You can enter all four Prizes should you wish. Authors and journalists may only submit one entry per Prize, but there is no restriction on the number of entries which may be submitted by a single publisher or publication for a single Prize.

When do entries open? When do they close?

Entries usually open in October and will be announced on our website, via social media and our newsletter. Please see our Prize home page for up to date information.

Can I submit my blog? Does the Orwell Prize have plans to re-launch a Blog Prize?

The Blog Prize was discontinued in 2010. Jean Seaton wrote about why here.

The Orwell Prize does not currently have plans to re-launch the Blog Prize. However, entrants to the Orwell Prize for Journalism may now submit one self-published blog or microblog (e.g. Twitter thread) among their three items.

When will I know if my work is successful? Can you provide feedback?

Longlists are usually announced in March, with Shortlists announced in April and the winner announced in late May. Keep an eye on our news, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media for up to date information. Unfortunately we are unable to provide feedback on entries due to the very large number of submissions that are made.

How many entries does the Orwell Prize receive?

The Orwell Prize receives around 200 entries in each category.

How do I get involved with an event?

Our events are usually free and open to the public. Check our events page for up to date information.

If you have an idea for an event, or would like to propose a speaker, please contact us.