Submitting your writing to a competition is a great achievement in itself – but what happens after you send in your work?
When you submit your final entry, it is read by at least two of our volunteer readers, who help us to create a shortlist of the entries which stand out to them as being the most original, well-argued and/or well-written responses to the theme.
We use our readers’ advice to create a final shortlist, which we send to the judges. The judges then select their winners and runners up for each of our three age categories, as well as any highly commended entries for a special mention.
We’re delighted to introduce our panel of judges for The Orwell Youth Prize 2024, which reflects the diversity of genres and styles being welcomed in response to our theme of HOME. Find out more about all our judges below…
“In a world that seems to be falling apart in front of our eyes I have hope that the next generation will make a better job of putting things right. I think young people are getting more and more engaged in the world of politics and writing is a great way to look at the important issues of our time with the passion and insight of youth. I’m really looking forward to reading the submissions for this year’s prize and I encourage any young person out there with something to say, to say it – loud and clear.”
Charlie Higson is one of the most successful comedy actors and writers of the last thirty years. With Paul Whitehouse, he created many well-loved characters for Harry Enfield and he and Paul then went on to create and star in The Fast Show. After the Fast Show he spun off one of his most popular characters, the car salesman, Swiss Toni, into a sitcom of his own and made two popular drama series – Randall and Hopkirk Deceased for the BBC with Vic and Bob, and Jekyll & Hyde for ITV.
Charlie is also the author of six novels for adults – his most recent beings the James Bond thriller, On His Majesty’s Secret Service – and 14 novels for younger readers, including the bestselling Young Bond & Enemy series. His most recent acting work includes the Mallorca Files, Grantchester, and series 3 of Broadchurch.
“I’d highly recommend you enter the Orwell Youth Prize because George Orwell was an inspirational, highly imaginative writer whose words will spark your own creativity. Whatever genre you want to write in, research his most famous works like Animal Farm and 1984. Read them if you have time. My most recent book was heavily inspired by 1984; it opened up so many doors in my mind about political power, our relationship to the past and how to write a book within a book. Read the brilliant Inspiration and Research pages on the prize website, too. Create an idea that fires you up and see where it takes you. Good luck!”
Patience Agbabi is a sought-after poet, novelist, performer and mentor who has spent 20 years celebrating the written and spoken word. A former Poet Laureate of Canterbury with numerous residences and awards under her belt, Agbabi’s work has appeared on both radio and TV and she has toured around the world to festivals and events. In 2014 she was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Prize for New Work in Poetry following her fourth collection, ”Telling Tales”, and in 2004 she was nominated one of the UK’s ‘Next Generation Poets’. Her first middle-grade novel was published by Canongate in 2020.
Vicky Spratt is a writer, reporter, and investigative journalist. Currently, she is the housing correspondent as well as a regular columnist at The i Paper. Always with a focus on human stories and social justice, her journalism looks at how politics actually impacts people’s lives beyond the Westminster bubble. It has helped change laws (such as the Tenant Fees Act 2019 which banned letting fees in England and Wales) and informed public policy. Her first book, TENANTS, was published by Profile in 2022. Her second will be published by 4th Estate in 2024.
“The theme of ‘Home’ has endless possibilities; it is a theme that can allow the young writer to transport us to the various nuances of their world and conjure up something genuine and relatable to them. As a judge, I am looking for authenticity. I don’t want the body of work to be faceless but to embody a part of whoever has written it. We are living in a time that is calling for courageous, bold, and daring young voices, so I am looking forward to witnessing some fearless pieces of work.
My humble tip? Cliche but so real, be yourself. Engage with the theme of ‘Home’ from your perspective, and ultimately, be fearless! There are so many writers out there, but there can only be one you. No one sees the world the way you do; no one has experienced life from your perspective. So, with that alone, you are already unique; bring this uniqueness to the table”.
Coventry Poet Laureate John Bernard, is known as the city’s voice for the youth, is recognised for his authentic, raw, and impactful work. He has graced the stages at renowned UK events and venues, such as Shambala Festival, BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend, Symphony Hall alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and many others.
John’s artistry has gained prominence on both local and national platforms, including BBC Radio 3’s “The Verb,” BBC 1Xtra, BBC Bitesize, and BBC Introducing. Committed to promoting a passion for words, John collaborates with schools, youth organisations, universities, and community groups to inspire and empower young minds through his art.
“Tell us something we don’t know, explore an under-reported world, bring us ideas and make us think anew. Young writers open up new vistas for us all, so enter the Orwell Youth Prize with your best writing to help you on the way to following in the great man’s footsteps.”
Polly Toynbee is a political and social commentator for the Guardian newspaper. Previously she was the BBC’s Social Affairs Editor. She has won national press awards as Commentator of the Year twice and The Orwell Prize. She is vice president of the Humanists UK and a trustee of the Political Quarterly, founded by George Orwell. Her books include Lost Children and Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain. With David Walker, she co-authored Unjust Rewards, The Verdict: Did Labour change Britain and The Lost Decade: 2010-2020. This year she published An Uneasy Inheritance – my family and other radicals.