YOU CAN WRITE! YOU CAN BE HEARD! YOU CAN WIN!
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.
COMING UP FOR AIR: WRITING THE CLIMATE CRISIS
This year, we want you to think and write critically and creatively about how the climate crisis affects the people, places, and things around you. How will our impact on the environment affect the places you know? What will the impact be on human beings around the world?
George Orwell was a political writer: he wrote movingly about the importance of our relationship with the natural world and the destruction of the environment. But he also paid close attention to social justice and the importance of language in shaping how we see the world.
Inspired by Orwell, we are also encouraging you to come up for air and look afresh at the way the climate crisis and the environment is discussed and reported today. How can we confront this crisis in a way which is fair to everyone? What difficult decisions might need to be made to help save the planet? What is missing from the conversation?
And if you had the power, what changes would you make?
WHO CAN ENTER?
The Prize is open to anyone in years 8 -13 (or equivalent) who is at school or college in the United Kingdom. You don’t need to have participated in an Orwell Youth Prize Workshop to enter. Your entry can be your own work, or you can work with a friend.
WHAT SHOULD I WRITE?
Entering the Prize is an opportunity to think about the impact of different kinds of writing. As long as you have engaged with the theme in some way in your piece, you can write in any form you like! Journalism, essays, short stories, blog posts, poems and plays are all welcome, and this year we are particularly encouraging video game designs.
Orwell himself wrote in a huge variety of forms, from novels to non-fiction, depending on what he had to say. Our resources offer some suggestions on the how to choose the form that works best for your entry.
Whatever form you chose, the word limit is 1000 words for the junior category (if you’re in years 8-11) and 1500 words in the senior category (years 12-13).
WHAT DO I WIN?
All entries will be read by expert, volunteer readers and everyone who enters is offered personalised feedback.
Winners and runners up are published on our website, receive a cash prize, books by Orwell, and are invited to become part of the Orwell Youth Fellows programme.
We also work with our winners to ensure your writing reaches the people you want to be heard by, from politicians and policymakers to inspirational writers and journalists.
WHY GEORGE ORWELL?
The Orwell Youth Prize takes its inspiration from the author, journalist and essayist George Orwell. Orwell wrote from his own experiences and observed the social injustices and political happenings of the world around him.
My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
George Orwell, Why I Write
Orwell also wrote in language that was clear, concise and compelling for his audience. We encourage you to follow George Orwell’s example: to write about something that matters to you, and that you want to draw to the attention of others.
If you have a piece you would like to enter today, you can use the entry form to ask for feedback, or to submit your final draft. Everyone who enters is entitled to individual feedback. Find out more about the feedback we offer here.
If you’re a teacher supporting your students through the programme, you can find out more about our resources and workshops here.
We have also designed a pathway and resources for individual entrants to support you as you research and write your entry, beginning with some inspiration from Orwell himself, and reading recommendations, which we will update throughout the year. Head here to get started!