Since the first annual Orwell Prizes were awarded in 1994, many distinguished figures from literature and journalism have served on its judging panel.

Previous judges include Carmen Callil, Bonnie Greer, David Hare, Richard Hoggart, Lisa Jardine, Penelope Lively, Andrew O’Hagan, Tom Paulin, Esme Percy, Lynne Truss, Marina Warner and Samira Ahmed.

Sir Bernard Crick was chair of the judges until the 2006 Prize. Professor Jean Seaton became Director of the Prize from the Orwell Prize 2007. The Director is no longer on the judging panel. The judges are appointed each year by the Board of Trustees and the Director of The Orwell Foundation.

Judging the Orwell Prize was an invigorating experience. Reading the dozens of books and articles submitted, one realised just how potent Orwell’s spirit and example still are in inspiring the best authors and journalists. The prize celebrates this enduring influence – and, I think, helps to perpetuate it.

Francis Wheen, Judge (2007 & 2017) and Book Prize Winner 2003

2019 Political writing book prize Judges

Helen Pankhurst

Helen Pankhurst is an author, a women’s rights activist and an international development practitioner. Helen studied at Sussex University, Vassar College, New York, and Edinburgh University and has an honorary degree from Edge Hill University. She is a Visiting Professor at MMU and (from December 2018) the First Chancellor of the University of Suffolk. Helen is a Senior Advisor for CARE International, based in the UK and in Ethiopia. She previously worked for other international development charities including WaterAid, Womankind Worldwide and ACORD. She is currently a Trustee of ActionAid. The great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement, Helen carries on the legacy. This includes undertaking re-enactment work for current-day awareness-raising including at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, the 2015 film Suffragette, leading CARE International’s annual #March4Women event ahead of International Women’s Day in London and launching the Centenary Action Group. She has worked with the composer Lucy Pankhurst, on the lyrics of the Emmeline Anthem commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and in 2018 published the book: Deeds Not Words, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now.

Robbie Millen

Robbie Millen has been literary editor of The Times since 2013. He was deputy comment editor of The Times‘s award-winning opinion pages from 2002-13. Before that he was assistant editor of The Spectator.

Ted Hodgkinson

Ted Hodgkinson is a broadcaster, editor, critic, writer and Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre, where he oversees the seasonal literature programme as well as the prestigious London Literature Festival. Since his arrival at Southbank Centre he has programmed and interviewed authors and speakers including Margaret Atwood, Philip Pullman, John le Carré, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Professor Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tom Hanks, Michelle Obama, Zadie Smith and Roxane Gay. Formerly online editor at Granta magazine of new writing, his essays, interviews and reviews have appeared across a range of publications and websites, including the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, the New Statesman, the Spectator, the Literary Hub and the Independent. He co-edited, with Icelandic author and poet Sjón, the first anthology of Nordic short stories in English, The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and other stories from the North (Pushkin Press, 2017), to critical acclaim. In 2018, for a second consecutive year, he was named in The Bookseller’s list of the 100 most influential people in publishing.

Tulip Siddiq MP (Chair)

Tulip Siddiq is the Labour Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn. She is a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee. She is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Childcare and Early Education and the Vice- Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism. She is a governor at Emmanuel Primary School, a trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and a patron of the charity Leaders Plus.

2019 Political fiction book prize Judges

Dr. Xine Yao

Dr. Christine “Xine” Yao is Lecturer in American Literature to 1900 at University College London. Previously she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia after earning her PhD from Cornell University. She is completing a manuscript on the racial and sexual politics of unfeeling as dissent in nineteenth-century American literature and culture. Her scholarly essays have appeared in J19, Occasion, American Quarterly, and American Gothic Culture: An Edinburgh Companion. Xine is the co-host of PhDivas, a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. Her honours include the Yasuo Sakakibara Essay Prize from the American Studies Association and her work has been supported by multiple grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Preti Taneja

Preti Taneja is the author of We That are Young, (Galley Beggar Press, 2017), a Book of the Year in the Guardian, Sunday Times and the Spectator (UK), The Hindu (India) and a 2018 Library Journal top 10 literary fiction book of the year (USA). We That Are Young has listed for international awards including the Prix Jan Michalski, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and is the winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK’s best debut of the year. It is being translated into several languages and is published in the USA and Canada by A.A Knopf. Preti began her career training disadvantaged young people across the UK in media skills; she has over a decade of experience as a human rights researcher, writer and editor working in conflict and post conflict zones, and of teaching writing including in prison. She holds a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship at Warwick University.

Sam Leith

Sam Leith is the Literary Editor of The Spectator, a columnist for the FT and regular book reviewer for the Guardian, FT, Telegraph and TLS. He’s the author of several books, most recently Write To The Point: How To Be Clear, Correct and Persuasive on the Page.

Tom Sutcliffe (Chair)

Tom Sutcliffe is the presenter of Radio Four’s arts review programme Saturday Review and Round Britain Quiz. After graduating from Cambridge he joined the BBC as a producer in Talks and Documentaries, and was eventually appointed editor of Kaleidoscope, Radio Four’s long running arts magazine programme. He left in 1986 to help launch the Independent, where he was Arts Editor, Associate Editor and a regular writer on the Arts and Comment pages. In 2000 his book, Watching: Reflections on the Movies, was published by Faber and Faber.

2019 Journalism Judges

Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor is the editor of The Lady, England’s longest running women’s magazine.  She started her journalism career on the London listings magazine City Limits, eventually becoming editor, before going on to hold several senior editorial roles at newspapers including The Independent, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

Her satirical column for The Oldie magazine, East of Islington, was made into a successful novel and she recently edited a book of non-fiction, Make Do and Send, about letters written during wartime rationing.  She is currently writing a dramatized version of the life of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor on the  American medical register who spent her final years living with a woman in Hastings.  Sam also writes features and comment pieces.

Tim Marshall

Tim Marshall was a foreign correspondent and then Foreign Affairs Editor with Sky News for thirty years before leaving full time journalism to concentrate on writing and analysis. Originally from Leeds, Tim arrived at broadcasting from the road less travelled. Not a media studies or journalism graduate, in fact not a graduate at all, after a wholly unsuccessful career as a painter and decorator he worked his way through newsroom nightshifts, and unpaid stints as a researcher and runner before eventually securing himself a foothold on the first rung of the broadcasting career ladder.

Tim reported in the field from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990’s. He spent the majority of the 1999 Kosovo crisis in Belgrade, where he was one of the few western journalists who stayed on to report from one of the main targets of NATO bombing raids. Tim was in Kosovo to greet the NATO troops on the day they advanced into Pristina. In recent years he covered the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. He has written for many of the national newspapers including the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times. His book ‘Prisoners of Geography’ is an international best seller. This was followed by ‘Worth Dying For. The Power and Politics of Flags’ and this year saw the release of ‘Divided; Why we are living in an Age of Walls’ which went straight into the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers.

Tim has been shot with bird pellet in Cairo, hit over the head with a plank of wood in London, bruised by the police in Tehran, arrested by Serbian intelligence, detained in Damascus, declared persona non grata in Croatia, bombed by the RAF in Belgrade and tear-gassed all over the world. However, he says none of this compares with the experience of going to see his beloved Leeds United away at Millwall FC in London.

Vaughan Smith

Vaughan is an award-winning video journalist who founded the Frontline Club in London in 2003 as an institution to champion independent journalism. During the 1990s he ran Frontline Television News, an agency that represented the interests of freelance video journalists. Its history has been detailed in a book “Frontline: The True Story of the British Mavericks who Changed the Face of War Reporting'” by the BBC. Since 1988 Vaughan has filmed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and elsewhere, including the only uncontrolled footage of the Gulf War in 1991 while disguised for two months as a British Army officer. Vaughan was a founding Trustee of the Rory Peck Trust. His home was refuge to Julian Assange for 13 months in 2011/12. In 2011 Vaughan won a Bayeux award for his film on US Medivac shown on Al Jazeera.

2019 Exposing Britain's Social Evils prize Judges

Campbell Robb

Campbell joined the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust as Chief Executive in January 2017. Before joining JRF and JRHT, Campbell was the Chief Executive of Shelter for seven years. As Chief Executive, he led the organisation through one of the most challenging periods in its history. This included building a sustainable, fundable model of integrated advice and support that is helping more clients than ever before, a growth in independent income and leading the organisation’s response to some of the biggest changes to housing and welfare policy in generations. Prior to joining Shelter, Campbell was the first Director General of the Office of the Third Sector, an adviser to The Treasury and was previously Director of Public Policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Campbell is a trustee of Care International UK – www.careinternational.org.uk. In November 2017 he was awarded an Honorary degree from York St John University.


Farrah Storr

Farrah Storr was appointed Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan in July 2015 and has since grown the brand to become the No.1 UK women’s glossy. Previously, Farrah was the launch Editor of Women’s Health magazine. Under her direction, Women’s Health became the most successful women’s magazine launch of the decade. Her achievements were recognised by the British Society for Magazine Editors when she won the prestigious award ‘New Editor of the Year’ in 2014. Most recently, Farrah was awarded Editor of the Year at the 2018 PPA Awards, Editor of the Year (Men’s & Women’s category) at the 2018 BSMEs, and was also named as one of the 36 BAME people on the Guardian’s list of the 1,000 most powerful people in Britain. She is one of the judges for the Orwell Foundation’s, Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils and is also the author of The Discomfort Zone (Piatkus).

Rosie Millard

Rosie Millard OBE is CEO of Children and the Arts, a national charity which works to engage all children with great art across the country. One of HRH Prince of Wales’ charities, Children and the Arts has worked with over 10,000 children to enable them to have transformative, inspiring and creative arts experiences in all fields of art. She is also Chair of BBC Children in Need, the BBC’s charity which every year helps bring happiness and transform outcomes for children across the UK.

From 2014-2018 Rosie Millard was the Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, a £32.5 million programme which opened in January 2017. Darren Henley, CEO of the Arts Council of England has called Hull’s year an “unmitigated, rip-roaring, awe-inspiring, life-enhancing success.” Being City of Culture has had a transformative effect on the Yorkshire city, achieving 90% engagement amongst its citizens, involving every single one of its 55,000 children and bringing in millions of tourists. Rosie was called upon to speak at a vast array of public events on a national level, championing Hull and its unique cultural offer in the national media including all the broadsheets, the Today programme, BBC News, Sky News, and ITV. She is a Trustee of Opera North, which brings opera to communities and audiences largely (but not exclusively) across the North of England.

Sarah O’Connor

Sarah O’Connor writes about the changing world of work for the Financial Times, where she is an investigations correspondent and columnist. She joined the FT in 2007 as a graduate trainee, and in the subsequent decade she has covered the US economy from Washington, the UK economy from London and the financial crisis from Reykjavik. Her coverage of the labour market won the Wincott Prize for Financial Journalism in 2017, while her regular op-ed column won Economics Commentator of the year at the 2017 Comment Awards and Business Commentator of the year at the 2018 Comment Awards. Her story about “Shit Life Syndrome” in Blackpool won the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils in 2018.