Now you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to start researching your piece. In 2023, we asked writer and researcher Sujana Crawford to tell us a little about her own research methods – read her tips for getting started here. Stay tuned for more resources coming soon.
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
George Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language’
Writing is always a creative process, but a bit of research is useful whatever form you’re writing in. You might come across surprising facts, unsung heroes, untold stories, striking images, new perspectives, shocking statistics, unexpectedly poetic phrases – all material which will be really helpful for your work.
Below we’ve collected some articles and programmes recommended by members of the team and our Youth Fellows to provide some inspiration, which we’ll continue adding to throughout the year. You don’t need to start here (and you certainly don’t need to read all the suggestions!) but have a browse and see if you can find anything which helps develop your ideas further, or take them in a new direction.
Let’s get the facts in order!
Whether you’re writing an article, a story, a poem or even a game design, it’s important to know your facts. The Research stage of the pathway aims to help you begin finding out more about the topics which interest you and identify reliable sources of information.
Whenever you’re researching a subject, you will find that some sources of information are more reliable than others. Some may not even be reliable at all. Here are some links to advice on ways to critically examine the information you encounter, especially online.
- The BBC’s ‘Real News‘ page. They also have helpful resources on reporting generally.
- For Sixth Form students and teachers, this series of quick online lessons introduces fact-checking and source-checking.
Like The Orwell Youth Prize, The Orwell Prizes exist to encourage good politically-engaged writing and reporting. Why not research the work of a previous Orwell Prize winner, or read an interview with an Orwell Prize nominated journalist over on our Substack?
Recommended reading, watching and listening (it really is optional)
- 2023 was the first year of a new Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness. Read about the entries which made the shortlist here. They cover a range of forms of homelessness and hidden homelessness. They also include reporting from our 2024 judge, Vicky Spratt! Please note: some pieces contain strong language, and mention of sexual assault and violence.
- Listen to ‘Down, Not Out’, the Orwell Prize podcast series with the Secret Life of Prisons, with the Prison Radio Association. The podcast includes discussion with guests who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness, and with Orwell experts, talking about Orwell’s own experiences of homelessness, and extracts from Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London (contains some strong language, and includes discussion of drugs and sex).
- “Football teams are rooted in place.” This resource on politics and football by Wyn Grant explores the globalisation of football and how this has affected football’s place in local communities.
- Read the poem ‘A Portable Paradise’ by Roger Robinson – and watch the poet himself read it, along with other poems from his T S Eliot Prize-winning collection of the same name.
- Read Orwell Prize winning journalist Janice Turner’s article ‘Clearing out my family home’ on clearing out her parents’ house when her mother went into care.
- Or why not take a look at architect Rowan Moore’s article on stone as a sustainable building material.
- Explore the trade journal Inside Housing for up to date news stories about housing and social housing in the UK.
- Watch a talk from 2022 Orwell Youth Prize Judge, Professor Michael Jacobs, on the politics surrounding the climate crisis, the power which global leaders and governments have, and also the power individuals have to affect change.
- Watch ‘Decolonising the Wonder House: Orwell, Empire and the Museum’, the Orwell Memorial Lecture 2020 by Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Dr Hunt explores George Orwell’s and Rudyard Kipling’s very different relationships with the British Empire and imperialism, the role of museums as ‘homes’ for objects, and how museums can create a public space that acknowledges the colonial legacies of empire whilst remaining open to people of all backgrounds.
- Watch and listen to some videos from the Orwell Prize winning series ‘Anywhere but Westminster’ with John Harris and John Domokos (includes some strong language).
- Watch this virtual tour of The Museum of the Home.
- Speaking of virtual tours – have a look at the Architectural Digest celebrity home tours and think about how homes can be representative of the self, why we are intrigued to look around other people’s (particularly famous people’s) homes, and the role of celebrity culture in how we think about aspirational homes.
- Get inspired by these photographs of famous authors in their homes…
- Watch 15 year old Mariam Mekhail’s TED Talk on the true meaning of home.
- And look through the collection catalogues of The Museum of the Home.
Below are some previous Orwell Youth Prize entries which we think might inspire you to think about this year’s theme…
In ‘Blackpool’, 2022 winner Cerys Shanks writes about her hometown, memories, anxieties and hopes for the future.
In ‘On Keeping a Time Capsule’, 2021 winner Jennifer Yang writes about moving home and family history.
In ‘Mending the Safety Net’, 2021 runner up Ruby Alexander writes about approaches to tackling homelessness.
In ‘The Radcliffe Line’, 2023 winner Zaeema Assad writes about personal identity, culture, and historical legacy.
In ‘”Beware of the dog,” says the man with the gun’, 2023 winner Iris Mamier writes on the refugee crisis, asylum seeking, and what it means to try and make a home in a foreign country.
In ‘The Catharsis of a Crane’, 2023 winner Heike Ghandi’s writes about a father trying to give his daughter a better home, breaking out of a cycle of poverty.
‘Work Experience as a Young Campaigner’ is 2021 winner Jude Leese’s poem, on local politics – trying to make your community, and by extension the world, a better place.