The Orwell Youth Prize 2023: Winners

From chilling, richly imagined dystopias to essays on meritocracy and colonial borders, we are delighted to announce the winners of The Orwell Youth Prize 2023, on the theme of ‘Who’s in Control?’.

All of this year’s winning entries – including runners up and highly commended, in senior and junior categories – are available to read now via the links below.

The Orwell Youth Prize 2023: Who’s in Control?

At a time when so many issues affecting young people, from education to the cost of living, feel out of control, and when it can be hard to know who or what to believe, we asked our entrants to think and write creatively about the theme ‘Who’s in Control?’.

Over 500 young writers responded in the form of essays, poetry, short fiction, journalism, and video game designs. The standard was once again incredibly high, so much so that our selectors chose forty-three outstanding pieces to go forward to the judges.

The judges of The Orwell Youth Prize 2023 were Orwell Prize-winning author, Delia Jarrett-Macauley; Financial Times Global Education Editor, Andrew Jack; the BBC’s Disinformation and Social Media Correspondent, Marianna Spring; and Forward Prize-winning poet, Will Harris. Chair of Judges, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, said:

We thoroughly enjoyed reading this year’s submissions for the OYP and were impressed by the range of unusual stories, poems, essays and scripts tackling the theme ‘Who’s in Control’. It was rewarding to discover so many well-executed pieces, and we were impressed by your creativity and original ideas. Keep writing! And congratulations to all.

Our volunteer readers also delivered over 400 pieces of feedback, ensuring that every entrant who requested it had a personal response to their work and the benefit of writing advice and inspiration from our network of professional writers, academics and publishing professionals.

The winners and runners up will also be invited to join The Orwell Youth Fellows, a collective of young writers starting conversations and developing new writing that is responsive to our changing world – and supporting other young people to engage with the prize.

The Orwell Youth Prize Celebration Day  2023

All the shortlisted writers were invited to the Celebration Day at University College London on Saturday 8th July 2023, where they took part in a creative writing workshop with the award-winning writer and poet Anthony Anaxagorou and shared their work before receiving their prizes, including a copy of George Orwell’s essays and The Orwell Youth Fellow’s Zine, Axial Tilt. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to all our winners!


Beth Anker – Meritocracy: The Politician’s Pipe Dream

Priya Floura – Tick Tock

Heike Ghandi – The Catharsis of a Crane

Amelia Roles – Misconception


Edward Blair-Heikkinen – Simulation 0413

Ruxue Jia – Why is it so dark?

Ellie Lee – An Uncontrollable Scribble

Marianne Lee – Obedience


Zaeema Assad – The Radcliffe Line

Iris Mamier – Beware of the dog!’ says the man with the gun

Lara Wong – Men’s Shoes


Heather Chapman – Tableau with Sea Breeze and Salt Crown

Ewan Guarnieri – A Grand Reveal

Rosetta Millar – The Collective


Zirui Peng – To The Northerner (Junior)

Catie May McAleese – Thy Will Be Done (Senior)

The Orwell Youth Prize 2023 shortlisted writers, selected by our volunteer readers, were:

Amaia Blades-Darwen; Amelia Roles; Annabel Ovonlen; Anouk Wood; Beth Anker; Catherine McMullan; Catie May McAleese; Chelsea Xu; Doobee Adura; Edward Blair-Heikkinen; Ellie Lee; Ethan McMillan; Ewan Guarnieri; Francis McCabe; Haneen Eldegail; Hau Tak Ng; Heather Chapman; Heike Ghandi; Imogen Oliver; Imogen Watts; Iris Mamier; Isabella Tait; Jasmine Lai Man Chun; Lara Wong; Lauren Slater; Marianne Lee; Narthana Jayaweerasingham, Nikita Kurgan; Nia Hopes; Oliver Lewis; Pip van Toorn; Priya Floura; Pun Wattanasiritham; Rebekah Wilson; Rosetta Millar; Ruby Campbell; Ruxue Jia; Sebastian Sexton; Selina Zheng; Semilore Kaji-Hausa; Treasure Stephen; Vanessa Deko; Zaeema Assad; Zirui Peng.