WRITE ABOUT WHAT MATTERS TO YOU. GET EXPERT FEEDBACK. AND YOU COULD 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.
Now open to Year 7s
And above all, it is your civilisation, it is you.’ George Orwell, ‘England Your England’
What does home mean to you? A physical space? A person? A memory? A town? A country? Our planet? A dream?
At a time when our idea of home seems under pressure, from the cost-of-living crisis and the housing crisis, to the plight of refugees and the climate crisis, we want you to write about what home means to you.
Throughout George Orwell’s novels, essays and non-fiction, the idea of home recurs – whether it be a place from childhood in Coming Up For Air; a country and sense of patriotism in ‘England Your England’; what it means to be without a home or to struggle for a home in Down and Out in Paris and London; the very idea of home being threatened by surveillance, in Nineteen Eighty-Four; or our home in the natural world in ‘Some Thoughts on the Common Toad’.
Inspired by Orwell, we want you to think about ideas of home today. What does it feel like to be at home? What happens when our sense of a safe and secure home comes under threat? What does home mean in an ever-moving world? And how can we make our homes the places we want them to be – be this a household, town, city, country, or the world?
WHO CAN ENTER?
This year, we are opening the Prize to all secondary school students, including Year 7s. The Prize is open to anyone in years 7-13 (or equivalent) who is at school or college in the United Kingdom (or studying from a British Curriculum abroad – see our Terms and Conditions for details). You don’t need to have participated in an Orwell Youth Prize workshop or event to enter. Your entry must be your own work, but you can work individually or 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, reviews, letters, blog posts, poems, plays and even video game design concepts are all welcome.
Orwell himself wrote in a huge variety of forms, from novels to non-fiction books, essays and journalism, depending on what he had to say. Our resources offer some suggestions on 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 7-11) 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 by our feedback deadline of 1st April 2024 is offered personalised feedback.
Winners and runners up are published on our website, receive Orwell’s collected essays and a certificate, and are invited to become part of the Orwell Youth Fellows programme. Winners also receive a £50 cash prize and the complete works of Orwell for themselves and for their school.
We also work with our winners and runners up to ensure your writing reaches the people you want to be heard by, from 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.
Once 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 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!
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