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.
At a time when many issues, from the climate crisis to the cost of living, feel out of control; abuses of power are happening throughout the world; and disinformation makes it hard to know who and what to believe:
Who or what is really in control, of our futures, our bodies, our communities, our countries, our planet?
This year, we want you to think and write critically and creatively about who or what controls aspects of the world we live in, how we might be able to find new ways to take control of our futures and most productively use the power that we have.
Orwell’s most famous books, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, are both preoccupied with the use and misuse of power, how human beings (and animals!) can be controlled, and the ways in which language can be manipulated to allow systems of power to exert control over the lives, ideologies, and even thoughts of ordinary people.
Inspired by Orwell, we are also encouraging you to look afresh at systems of power and control in the world around you today. Who do we trust and why? What is needed from those in power now? If you were leader of your country, what would be the first change you would 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 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, 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 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 by our feedback deadline of 24th April 2023 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.
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 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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