Here you can find the answers to some frequently asked questions. Please contact us if your question is not answered here.
The Orwell Prizes aim to encourage good writing, reporting and thinking about politics. Every year since 1993, we have awarded prizes for books and journalism which come closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Our journalism prizes now reward and encourage work in any medium, while the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils has a special remit to encourage reporting which extends the reach of traditional media.
The Orwell Foundation, which awards the prizes, is a charity 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.
The Orwell Foundation is distinct from, but works closely with, the Orwell Estate, The Orwell Society, and The Orwell Trust.
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 has a special remit to encourage entries from reporting that extends the reach of traditional media.
Every year, the Foundation awards £12,000 in Prize money. Winners of each Orwell Prize receive £3,000 and a unique trophy.
Someone involved in the creation of the work must be responsible for entering it. This may be the author, journalist publisher, agent, editor or a representative. The person making the submission will be asked to sign a disclaimer on behalf of the author committing to abide by the rules and attesting that the entry is the author’s own work.
There are different eligibility requirements for each Prize, so please read our full list of rules.
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.
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.
Nothing! Entry is free. Publishers who are shortlisted for either book prize are asked to make a contribution of £150 to the cost of promoting the shortlist and winner. Unlike industry awards, we have no entry fees and you don’t have to pay for a table to attend our Prize Ceremony.
The Prize Ceremony usually takes place on or around 25th June, George Orwell’s birthday. Unlike industry awards, you don’t have to pay for a table to attend our Prize Ceremony. Our events are usually free and open to the public too.
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 and published on the Foundation website. The judges are appointed by the Director and administrators, subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.
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 May. Both longlists and shortlists are published on the Foundation website and publicised via our social media, and usually picked up by the press and industry-specific reporters too.
For more information about how judges are chosen, please see our external guidelines.
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.
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.
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.
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, as of 2020 entrants to the Orwell Prize for Journalism may now submit one self-published blog or microblog (e.g. Twitter thread) as part of their portfolio and the judges shortlisted Peter Foster for doing exactly that.
Longlists are usually announced in March, with Shortlists announced in May and the winner announced in June. 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.
The Orwell Foundation receives around 200 entries in each category, give or take.