Since the first annual Orwell Prizes were awarded in 1994, many distinguished figures from literature and journalism have served on its judging panels. Since 2020, The Orwell Foundation has also appointed the judges of The Orwell Youth Prize.
Previous judges have included Carmen Callil, Bonnie Greer, David Hare, Richard Hoggart, Lisa Jardine, Penelope Lively, Andrew O’Hagan, Tom Paulin and Samira Ahmed. Sir Bernard Crick was chair of the judges until the 2006.
Judges are appointed each year, with a separate panel for each prize, and the decisions they make are theirs alone. Judges are asked to be as objective as possible and put their own political views aside; they are also asked to take into account Orwell’s values for inspiration.
Read more about our current panels below, or click here to meet this year’s Youth Prize judges.
2024 Political writing book prize Judges
Christina Lamb is Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Sunday Times and one of Britain’s leading foreign journalists as well as a bestselling author. She has been awarded Foreign Correspondent of the Year six times as well as Europe’s top war reporting prize, the Prix Bayeux, and was recently given the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Editors and Outstanding Impact Award by Amnesty International for her work on ISIS camps in Syria. Christina has written ten books: Our Bodies, Their Battlefields was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, the Bailie Gifford and the Kapuscinski award.
Lola Seaton is an associate editor at New Left Review and a contributing writer at the New Statesman, where she mainly reviews books. Her writing has appeared in the Financial Times Magazine, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books and the Point magazine, among other places. She lives in London.
Peter Frankopan (Chair)
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University where he has been Senior Research Fellow since 2000. His books include The Silk Roads: A New History of the World; The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World; The First Crusade: The Call from the East; and most recently The Earth Transformed: An Untold History. His books have been translated into more than forty languages.
Rohan Silva is the founder of Libreria bookshop in East London, and co-founder of Second Home, which has built creative spaces for cultural events and entrepreneurship in London, Lisbon and Los Angeles. Rohan writes columns and book reviews for the Evening Standard, Times and Observer, and has been a member of the judging panels for the Samuel Johnson Book Prize and the Costa Poetry Prize.
Sunder Katwala is the director of British Future, a non-partisan thinktank on issues of identity, immigration and race, and the author of How to be a Patriot published by Harper North in 2023. He was previously General Secretary of the Fabian Society and an Observer journalist.
2024 Political fiction book prize Judges
Alexandra Harris (Chair)
Alexandra Harris is a literary critic, cultural historian, and Professor of English at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of Romantic Moderns, Virginia Woolf, and Weatherland; The Rising Down will be published in 2024. She reviews fiction for the Guardian and chaired the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 2020.
Lara Choksey is Lecturer in Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures at UCL. She is the author of Narrative in the Age of the Genome, alongside essays on science, literature, and colonialism. Outside academia, she worked as a journalist for the Statesman newspaper in Kolkata, reporting on issues to do with development, health, and climate.
Ross Raisin is the author of four novels: A Hunger (2022), A Natural (2017), Waterline (2011) and God’s Own Country (2008). His work has won and been shortlisted for over ten literary awards. He won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award in 2009, and in 2013 was named on Granta’s once a decade Best of Young British Novelists list. In 2018 he was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Society of Literature. Find more on Ross, his books and teaching here: www.rossraisin.com
Simon Okotie is a fiction writer and essayist. He is the author of the acclaimed Absalon Trilogy, and his fiction and essays have appeared in Financial Times Weekend, Firmament and gorse and at The London Magazine, 3:AM Magazine and The White Review. He was a Creative Fellow at the Samuel Beckett Research Centre at the University of Reading for 2022-23, and is the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at City, University of London, for 2023-24.
2024 Journalism Judges
David Gauke is a former Conservative MP and Cabinet Minister, having served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. He lost the whip as a Conservative MP in September 2019 after voting to oppose a no deal Brexit and left Parliament later that year having stood as independent. David is now a senior consultant with a leading City law firm and is a columnist with the New Statesman and ConservativeHome.
Helen Lewis is a staff writer at the Atlantic magazine, a former deputy editor of the New Statesman, presenter of The New Gurus and The Spark on BBC Radio 4, and the author of Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights.
Janine Gibson (Chair)
Janine Gibson is editor of FT Weekend. Previously she was the FT’s head of digital projects and platforms. She joined the FT in 2019 after 4 years as Editor-in-Chief of BuzzFeed UK, where the team won News Website of the Year at the 2017 UK Press Awards. Prior to BuzzFeed, she was deputy editor of the Guardian, most notably launching The Guardian US in 2013 and overseeing its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks. Her other roles at The Guardian included Media Editor and Editor of theguardian.com
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a Project Manager at Thomson Reuters Foundation and has previously worked for the international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WHO in Iran. Nazanin was detained in Iran in April 2016 and was held hostage for 6 years. Many people campaigned for her during her incarceration leading to her release in March 2022.
Yuen Chan is currently senior lecturer in journalism at City, University of London. She was previously Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and also served as Assistant Dean (Communication) for the Faculty of Social Science. As a journalist, she worked in print, television and radio in Hong Kong, and was later based in Shanghai and Beijing as a correspondent.
2024 Reporting Homelesness prize Judges
Freya Marshall Payne
Freya Marshall Payne is a writer and doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. She is working on a history of women’s homelessness and is especially interested in life-writing, oral history and activism. Freya jointly won the inaugural Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness in 2023. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian, the TLS and Prospect Magazine.
Lemn Sissay OBE FRSL is a poet, playwright, memoirist, and broadcaster. His memoir My Name Is Why won the Indie Book Awards non-fiction prize in 2021, and he was awarded The Pen Pinter Prize in 2019. Lemn was Chancellor of The University of Manchester from 2015 to 2022. He is a trustee of The Foundling Museum and The Gold From The Stone Foundation, and a patron of The National Association for the Teaching of English.
Paddy O’Connell (Chair)
Paddy O’Connell is a radio and TV presenter. He presents BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme every Sunday morning and occasionally Radio 4’s PM programme. Paddy began his broadcasting career as a BBC local radio reporter in Devon, Essex and Teesside. He then joined Radio 5 live at its launch before moving to the US to present The World Programme for The World Service. In 1997 Paddy became BBC News North America Business Correspondent and Wall Street anchor. Paddy has presented a wide range of news and entertainments shows, including the Eurovision Song Contest.
Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton is a firefighter, author, and academic. After leaving home at 15 and school at 16, Sabrina overcame extreme personal adversity and a period of homelessness and began her career as a firefighter. As Chief Fire Officer of Sussex Fire and Rescue, she is now recognised as a leading international expert on risk-critical decision making in crises. Sabrina holds a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience and is an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University.