The Orwell Youth Prize uses the writing of George Orwell as a starting point to inspire you to write about your own ideas and experiences, thinking about the world you live in. Uniquely, we help our entrants by offering feedback.
The Orwell Youth Prize 2021 theme is ‘A New Direction: Starting Small’. Subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on social media for the latest updates!
WHO CAN ENTER?
The Prize is open to anyone in year’s 8 -13 (or equivalent) who is at school or college, from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. You don’t need to have participated in an Orwell Youth Prize Workshop to enter.
WHAT IS THE THEME?
Every year, the Youth Prize takes a theme from Orwell’s work to inspire your responses to the world around you. The 2021 theme is ‘A New Direction: Starting Small’, previous themes have included ‘The Future We Want’, ‘A Fair Society?’, ‘Identity’ and ‘Truth vs. Lies’.
The Orwell Youth Prize takes its inspiration from George Orwell. Orwell wrote from his own experiences, and observed the social injustices and political happenings of the world around him. He also wrote in language that was clear, concise and compelling for his audience.
We encourage you to follow George Orwell’s example: write about something that matters to you, and that you want to draw to the attention of others.
WHAT SHOULD I WRITE?
You can write in any form you like: journalism, essays, short stories, blog posts, poems and even plays are all welcome. We want to hear what you’ve got to say! The word limit is 1000 for the junior category (if you’re in Years 8-11) and 1500 in the senior category (sixth-formers).
WHAT DO I WIN?
- Have your work published and recognised by your peers and professionals
- Win a cash prize
- Win books for yourself and your school (winners receive all of Orwell’s work, runners up Orwell’s Essays)
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Uniquely, we help our entrants by offering feedback on a first draft.
Everyone who is longlisted as an Orwell Youth Prize Finalist is invited to the Celebratory Prize Event at Pembroke College, Oxford in the summer. Orwell Youth Prize Winners receive ALL George Orwell’s novels and full-length non-fiction works, as well as a selection of essays and a cash prize.
Vidya Ramesh, one of the 2015 winners in the Senior category, had this to say about her experience:
Entering the Orwell Youth Prize, receiving helpful feedback and incisive critique from the judges, and of course the Celebration Day itself, has given me the confidence to seriously pursue writing as a possible career.
BEYOND THE WRITING PRIZE
The Orwell Youth Prize is much more than just a prize. We take leading authors, journalists, poets and reporters into schools and universities to work with young writers like you. And we have of inspiration on this website – tips on how to write from leading authors, as well as lots of George Orwell’s own work.
Entering the Orwell Youth Prize, receiving helpful feedback and incisive critique from the judges, and of course the Celebration Day itself, has given me the confidence to seriously pursue writing as a possible career. I must thank the Orwell Youth Prize for presenting those awarded with a day’s work experience at the offices of The Guardian. The day was conducted by Stephen Armstrong, journalist and author of the acclaimed The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited. It was a valuable opportunity to learn from Stephen’s expertise, as well as to practise writing at the hot-desk. Sifting through breaking news updates to devise a piece within a thirty minute deadline was an absorbing experience – it propelled me out of my comfort zone to write about the unfamiliar.