The Orwell Prize for Political Writing (formerly The Orwell Book Prize) is one of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for non-fiction, awarded to the book or pamphlet which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Last year’s winner was Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (William Collins).
The judges for The Orwell Prize for Political Writing are:
- Stephanie Flanders, Journalist and Economist (Chair)
- Paul Laity, Journalist, The Guardian
- Elif Shafak, Author
- Professor Robert Tombs, Author and Historian
Entry for The Orwell Prize for Political Writing is free. Shortlisted publishers are asked to contribute £150 towards the production and distribution of marketing materials. There is no limit to the number of entries a publisher can make. The Orwell Prize for Political Writing is open to non-fiction first published in the UK or Ireland in the calendar year 2019.
Publishers are invited to submit works of non-fiction by the deadline of Wednesday 31st October 2019.
- The Orwell Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually and recognises work published in the calendar year preceding the year in which the Award is made. The Prize, awarded in June 2020 (the 2020 Prize), recognise will recognise work first published between 1st January and 31st December 2019.
- It is named in memory of George Orwell, the British journalist, novelist and essayist.
- Both The Orwell Prize for Political Writing and its sister prize, The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, aim to encourage good writing and thinking about political themes. The winning entry of The Orwell Prize for Political Writing should strive to meet Orwell’s own ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Work should be of equal excellence in style and content and live up to the values of Orwell and the Orwell Foundation.
- ‘Political’ is defined in the broadest sense, including (but not limited to) entries addressing political, social, cultural, moral and historical subjects and can include pamphlets, books published by think tanks, diaries, memoirs, letters and essays.
- The Orwell Prize for Political Writing is worth £3,000 to the winner.
- Works of non-fiction must be first published in either print and/or electronic format, or both, in the UK or Ireland in the calendar year 2019 by a recognised publisher or imprint based in the UK. If a book is also published in the USA or Canada, it must be published simultaneously in the UK. All submitted titles should have their own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and be available in either pounds sterling or, in the case of books published in the Republic of Ireland, euros through UK and Irish retailers.
If you have any questions about eligibility, please get in touch with the administrator.
- There is no limit to the number of books a publisher or imprint may enter.
- A book which was published in paperback in 2019 would not be eligible for the 2020 Prize for Political Writing if it has first been published in hardback in 2018. Original paperbacks published in 2019 are eligible.
- A single author, or very small team of authors, must be clearly identifiable. Anthologies consisting of work by more than one author will not be accepted, but books where co-authors, up to a maximum of three, have worked on the entire book together are eligible.
- Revised editions and reprints will not be considered, unless the revisions are so major as to effectively render the entry a new publication.
- Works published in translation are ineligible.
- Self-published books, i.e. where the book is published by a company set up by the author solely for the purpose of publishing that book, or where the author is the publisher, are ineligible.
- Publishers may enter as many of The Orwell Foundation Prizes for which the work is eligible in the same year – i.e. a writer can be entered for The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Journalism Prize, and the Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils in the same year.
- There is no entry fee to enter the Prize however, the Orwell Foundation relies on the support of publishers and authors to promote the Prize and shortlisted publishers are asked to contribute £150 towards the production and distribution of marketing materials.
- A completed submission consists of the entered books and a completed entry form. Submissions must be received by the deadline or bear a postmark from before the deadline. Electronic copies and cover images can be uploaded to the website.
- A disclaimer from the publisher or author is required for all entries (a checkbox on the online form) stating that the submitted work is all the author’s own and has not been plagiarised, or is otherwise primarily the work of somebody else.
- The final decision on the eligibility of a submission rests with the director and administrators of the Prize, subject to the oversight of Trustees of The Orwell Foundation.
- Judges are not permitted to enter the Prize in the year they are judging.
- Members of the boards of any of the Foundation’s partners or Trustees of The Orwell Foundation are not permitted to enter.
- In the first instance, three copies of each book or pamphlet, one copy of the book in electronic form where available and a high-resolution image of the front cover, accompanied by a completed online entry form, should be submitted. You may then be asked to submit further copies for consideration and prize promotion. However, if further copies are not possible, it should not prevent a book from being entered.
- Publishers will be asked to provide copies of the books in electronic formats for the judges to consider.
- The entry form can be found here.
- The deadline for entries is Thursday 31st October 2019. Proofs will be accepted but finished copies must be submitted by Friday 20th December 2019.
Entries should be sent to: The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, Room 18, First Floor, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
- Judges may call in any titles they wish to consider provided they meet the eligibility criteria of the prize.
- The longlist will be published in March 2020. Typically, this will consist of twelve books. The judges may opt to longlist fewer or more entries at their discretion.
- The shortlist will be published in May 2019, selected from the entries on the longlist. Typically, this will consist of six books or pamphlets. The judges may opt to shortlist fewer or more entries at their discretion.
- If shortlisted, the author is expected to make themselves available for interviews and attend the annual Awards Ceremony which is usually held on or around George Orwell’s birthday on 25th June 2020. The winner of the Prize will be announced alongside the winners of The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Journalism Prize and the Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.
- If shortlisted, the author may be briefed about The Orwell Youth Prize, and asked to consider taking part in a school workshop. Orwell Youth Prize school workshops give young people the opportunity to meet professional writers.
- The winner may be asked to write a piece for The Orwell Foundation website, speak at events, and represent the Prize when requested.
- The Prize expects as much assistance as possible from publishers of longlisted, shortlisted and winning works in publicising the achievement. This includes carrying the news on their websites and in press releases, and highlighting the achievement in future editions of successful books, making the award of the Prize clear on subsequent reprint covers etc.
- If a book is successful at the shortlisting stage or wins, ‘Shortlisted for The Orwell Prize 2020′ or ‘Winner of The Orwell Prize 2020′ stickers will be available alongside other marketing materials. The contribution from shortlisted publishers is £150 and we will make digital files of the promotional material available to publishers and booksellers. If the book reprints we ask that you put ‘shortlisted or winner of The Orwell Prize’ on the cover or jacket.
- Publishers are asked to provide a digital copy of the first chapter or a suitably relevant extract of any longlisted books for The Orwell Prize website and publicity.
- Entrants should receive emailed confirmation of receiving their books. If they do not, they should contact the administrator.