The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction

Sponsored by A.M. Heath and Richard Blair

The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, now in its second year, is awarded for a work of fiction that explores ideas and issues, political themes, dilemmas and injustices through imagined narratives.  The winner of the inaugural Orwell Prize for Political Fiction was Anna Burns for Milkman.

The Prize is sponsored by George Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, and his literary agency, A.M. Heath.  It complements The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, formerly The Orwell Book Prize, which now focuses entirely on works of non-fiction.

Both Prizes seek to encourage writing that comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’.

The judges for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2020 are:

  • Jude Kelly CBE (Chair)
  • Tom Gatti, Deputy Editor, New Statesman
  • Sarah Shaffi, Journalist
  • Dr Matthew Sperling, Lecturer in English Literature, UCL

The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction is open to novels and short story collections first published in the UK or Ireland in the calendar year 2019.

Entry is free with shortlisted publishers 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.

Publishers are invited to submit novels by the deadline of 31st October 2019.


  1. The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 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.
  2. It is named in memory of George Orwell, the British novelist, journalist and essayist and is sponsored by his literary agents, A. M. Heath, and Orwell’s son, Richard Blair.
  3. Both The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and its sister prize for non-fiction, The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, aim to encourage good writing and thinking about political themes. Work should be of equal excellence in style and content and live up to the values of Orwell and the Orwell Foundation.
  4. The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction is worth £3,000 to the winner.


  1. Works of 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.

  1. Short story collections by a single author are eligible but anthologies by either a single writer or multiple contributors will not be accepted.
  2. There is no limit to the number of books a publisher or imprint may enter.
  3. A book which was published in paperback in 2019 would not be eligible for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2020 if it was first published in hardback in 2018. Original paperbacks published in 2019 are eligible for the prize.
  4. Fiction for young adults and graphic novels are eligible.
  5. Works published in translation are ineligible.
  6. 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.
  7. Publishers and authors 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.
  8. 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 we ask shortlisted publishers to contribute £150 towards the production and distribution of shortlist and winner marketing materials.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Judges are not permitted to enter the Prize in the year they are judging.
  13. Members of the boards of any of the Foundation’s partners or Trustees of The Orwell Foundation are not permitted to enter.


  1. In the first instance, three copies of each book, a copy in electronic format and a high-resolution image of the cover of the book, accompanied by a completed online entry form, should be submitted. You may then be asked to submit further copies for consideration and prize promotion.
  2. Publishers will also be asked to provide copies of the books in electronic formats for the judges to consider.
  3. The entry form can be found here.
  4. The deadline for entries is 31 October 2019. If finished copies are not available, proofs may be submitted but finished copies must be supplied by 20 December 2019.
  5. Entries should be sent to: The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, Room 18, First Floor, Institute of Advanced Studies, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT
  6. Judges may call in any titles they wish to consider provided they meet the eligibility criteria of the prize.
  7. A longlist will be published in March 2020. This will consist of twelve books although the judges may opt to longlist fewer or more entries at their discretion.
  8. The shortlist will be published in May 2020, selected from the entries on the longlist. Typically, this will consist of six books. The judges may opt to shortlist fewer or more entries at their discretion.
  9. 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. The winner of the Prize will be announced alongside the winners of The Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the Journalism Prize and the Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.
  10. 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.
  11. The winners may be asked to contribute a piece for The Orwell Foundation website, speak at events, and represent the Prize when requested.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 for Political Fiction’ on the cover or jacket.
  14. 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.
  15. Entrants should receive emailed confirmation of receiving their books. If they do not, they should contact the administrator.