British prize for political writing
For the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, see Orwell Award.

The Orwell Prize, based at University College London, is a British prize for political writing. The Prize is awarded by The Orwell Foundation, an independent charity (Registered Charity No 1161563, formerly “The Orwell Prize”) governed by a board of trustees.[1] Four prizes are awarded each year: one each for a fiction (established 2019) and non-fiction book on politics, one for journalism and one for “Exposing Britain’s Social Evils” (established 2015); between 2009 and 2012, a fifth prize was awarded for blogging. In each case, the winner is the short-listed entry which comes closest to George Orwell’s own ambition to “make political writing into an art”.[2]
In 2014, the Youth Orwell Prize was launched, targeted at school years 9 to 13 in order to “support and inspire a new generation of politically engaged young writers”.[3] In 2015, The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was launched.[4]
The British political theorist Sir Bernard Crick founded The Orwell Prize in 1993, using money from the royalties of the hardback edition of his biography of Orwell. Its current sponsors are Orwell’s son Richard Blair, The Political Quarterly, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Orwell Estate’s literary agents, A. M. Heath.[5] The Prize was formerly sponsored by the Media Standards Trust and Reuters.[6] Bernard Crick remained chair of the judges until 2006; since 2007, the media historian Professor Jean Seaton has been the Director of the Prize. Judging panels for all four prizes are appointed annually.[7]

Winners and shortlists[edit]
The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction (2019–present)[edit]

The Orwell Prize for Political Writing (2019–present)[edit]

Combined book category (1994–2018)[edit]

Beginning with 2019, the Book prize was split into fiction and non-fiction categories.[49][50]

The Orwell Prize for Journalism (1994–present )[edit]

The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils (2015–present)[edit]

Year

Author(s)

Title

Publisher

Result

Ref.

2015

Alison Holt

Care of the elderly and vulnerable

BBC

Winner

Randeep Ramesh

Casino, style Gambling as a Social Ill

Shortlist

Nick Mathiason

A Great British Housing Crisis

Mark Townsend

Serco: a hunt for the truth inside Yarl’s Wood

George Arbuthnott

Slaves in peril on the sea

Aditya Chakrabortty

London Housing Crisis

2016

Nicci Gerrard

Words fail us: Dementia and the arts

Winner

[73]

Sally Gainsbury, Sarah Neville, and John Burn-Murdoch

The Austerity State

Financial Times

Shortlist

Jackie Long, Job Rabkin, and Lee Sorrell

Detention Undercover: Inside Yarl’s Wood

Channel 4

Michael Buchanan

Investigation into NHS Failings

David Cohen, Matt Writtle, and Kiran Mensah

The Estate We’re In

London Evening Standard

David Leigh, James Ball, Juliette Garside, and David Pegg

The HSBC Files

The Guardian

2017

Felicity Lawrence

The gangsters on England’s doorstep

The Guardian

Winner

Billy Kenber

Drug profiteering exposed

The Times

Shortlist

Tom Warren, Jane Bradley, and Richard Holmes

The RBS Dash for Cash

BuzzFeed News

Ros Wynne-Jones

Real Britain

Daily Mirror

Mark Townsend

From Brighton the Battlefield

The Guardian

Anna Hall, Erica Gornal, and Louise Tickle

Behind Closed Doors

True Vision Aire and The Guardian

2018

Sarah O’Connor, John Burn-Murdoch, and Christopher Nunn

On the Edge

Financial Times

Winner

Andy Davies, Anja Popp, and Dai Bakera

Her Name Was Lindy

Channel 4 News

Shortlist

Joe Plomin

Behind Locked Doors

BBC Panorama

Patrick Strudwick

This Man Had His Leg Broken in Four Places Because He Is Gay

BuzzFeed UK

Mark Townsend

Four young black men die: were they killed by the police?

The Observer

Jennifer Williams

Spice

Manchester Evening News

2019

Max Daly

Behind County Lines

Vice

Winner

[9]

2020

Ian Birrell

Winner

[12]

2021

Annabel Deas

Hope High

BBC Radio 5 Live

Winner

[16]

Robert Wright

Behind Closed Doors: Modern Slavery in Kensington

The Financial Times

Shortlist

[69]

Sirin Kale

Lost to the Virus

The Guardian

Simon Akam

Britain and the Pandemic

1843

Tom Kelly, Susie Coen, and Sophie Borland

Exposing the Care Homes Catastrophe

Mail Investigation Team

Jane Bradley and Amanda Taub

Failings in Britain Leave Victims of Domestic Violence in Peril

The New York Times

Richard Watson

Hate Crime

BBC Newsnight

Blog category (2009–2012)[edit]

Special prizes[edit]
In addition to the four regular prizes, the judges may choose to award a special prize.
In 2007, BBC’s Newsnight programme was given a special prize, the judges noting, “When we were discussing the many very fine pieces of journalism that were submitted Newsnight just spontaneously emerged in our deliberations as the most precious and authoritative home for proper reporting of important stories, beautifully and intelligently crafted by journalists of rare distinction.”
In 2008, Clive James was given a special award.
In 2009, Tony Judt was given a lifetime achievement award.
In 2012, a posthumous award was made to Christopher Hitchens in 2012, his book Arguably having been longlisted that year.[31][30]
In 2013, Marie Colvin received a special prize for On the Front Line. She had been killed earlier that year while on assignment in Homs, Syria.[34]
In 2014, the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland was given a special award, after having been shortlisted for the Journalism Prize that year.

Controversy[edit]
In 2008 the winner in the Journalism category was Johann Hari. In July 2011 the Council of the Orwell Prize decided to revoke Hari’s award and withdraw the prize. Public announcement was delayed as Hari was then under investigation by The Independent for professional misconduct.[79] In September 2011 Hari announced that he was returning his prize “as an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews”, although he “stands by the articles that won the prize”.[80] A few weeks later, the Council of the Orwell Prize confirmed that Hari had returned the plaque but not the £2,000 prize money, and issued a statement that one of the articles submitted for the prize, “How multiculturalism is betraying women”, published by The Independent in April 2007, “contained inaccuracies and conflated different parts of someone else’s story (specifically, a report in Der Spiegel)”.[81]
Hari did not initially return the prize money of £2,000.[82] He later offered to repay the money, but Political Quarterly, responsible for paying the prize money in 2008, instead invited Hari to make a donation to English PEN, of which George Orwell was a member. Hari arranged with English PEN to make a donation equal to the value of the prize, to be paid in installments once Hari returned to work at The Independent.[83] However, Hari did not return to work at The Independent.

References[edit]

^ “About the Orwell Foundation”. The Orwell Prize. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ “About the prizes”. The Orwell Prize. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ “The Orwell Youth Prize”. The Orwell Prize. 21 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2016.

^ “The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 6 January 2016.

^ “The sponsors”. The Orwell Prize. 23 September 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2013.

^ “A brief history”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 6 January 2016.

^ “A Brief History”. TheOrwellPrize.co.uk.

^ a b “Previous winners”. The Orwell Prize. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ a b c d “Awards: Orwell Winners”. Shelf Awareness. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Shortlists”. Shelf Awareness. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Clanchy, Whitehead win 2020 Orwell Prize”. Books+Publishing. 10 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.

^ a b c d “Awards: Orwell Winners”. Shelf Awareness. 10 July 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Shortlists”. Shelf Awareness. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Smith, Yaffa win 2021 Orwell Prizes”. Books+Publishing. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Book Winners”. Shelf Awareness. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b c d Caplan, Walker (25 June 2021). “Here are the winners of the 2021 Orwell Prizes”. Literary Hub. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ a b c “Awards: Thurber Winner; Orwell Book Shortlists”. Shelf Awareness. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “2021 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction Shortlist”. Locus Online. 1 June 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ a b Schaub, Michael (18 July 2022). “Winners of the 2022 Orwell Prizes Are Revealed”. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Book Winners, Mo Siewcharran Longlist”. Shelf Awareness. 15 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b Doyle, Martin (18 May 2022). “Three Irish authors on Orwell Prize shortlists; Sally Hayden also on Michel Déon list”. IrishTimes.com. Retrieved 19 May 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Shortlists”. Shelf Awareness. 20 May 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Award for Sierra Leone war novel”. BBC News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ Flood, Alison (22 April 2009). “Guardian journalist wins Orwell book prize”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ “Awards: Orwell Prize; Shirley Jackson Awards”. Shelf Awareness. 24 April 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Sami Rohr Prize; Orwell Prize Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ Flood, Alison (17 May 2011). “Orwell prize goes to Tom Bingham”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ “Awards: Orwell Prize”. Shelf Awareness. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Orwell Prize Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Orwell Prize”. Shelf Awareness. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing”. BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ “Awards: Orwell Prize Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ Flood, Alison (15 May 2013). “Orwell prize goes to ‘chilling’ study of Baha Mousa’s death”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ a b c “Awards: Orwell; Wolfson History; Commonwealth Writers”. Shelf Awareness. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b “Awards: Stella Winner; SIBA Finalists; Orwell Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Orwell; Independent Foreign Fiction”. Shelf Awareness. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “This Boy”. The Orwell Prize. 20 May 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ “Awards: Cervantes Winner; Triangle Winners; Orwell Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ Flood, Alison (21 May 2015). “James Meek wins Orwell prize for political writing”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ “Awards: Orwell; Wolfson History; Orion; Australia Book Industry”. Shelf Awareness. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Shelf Awareness”. Awards: Orwell Shortlist. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Orwell Winner; Trillium Finalists”. Shelf Awareness. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Triangle; Orwell; James Tait Black”. Shelf Awareness. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Orwell Winner; Miles Franklin Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Orwell Shortlist”. Shelf Awareness. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Awards: Pritzker, Orwell, CLiPPA Winners”. Shelf Awareness. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Fine shortlisted for Orwell Prize 2018 | Books+Publishing”. Retrieved 28 June 2018.

^ “Awards: Orwell Shortlist; Ngaio Marsh Longlist”. Shelf Awareness. 24 May 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Orwell Foundation to Launch Political Fiction Prize”. Orwell Prize. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.

^ “Orwellian News: Foundation Launches New Fiction Prize”. Shelf Awareness. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Ian Bell: Scottish journalist whose nationalist writing won him the George Orwell Prize”. The Independent. 17 December 2015. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “Another prestigious award for journalism”. The Independent. 14 April 2000. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “‘Independent’ writers are honoured in George Orwell awards”. The Independent. 16 April 2002. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Jones, Sam (5 April 2006). “Garton Ash wins Orwell prize”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Dowell, Ben (25 April 2007). “Beaumont wins Orwell prize”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “Cockburn wins top journalism award”. The Independent. 24 April 2009. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Trilling, Daniel (10 May 2010). “Peter Hitchens wins Orwell Prize”. New Statesman. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Deans, Jason (18 May 2011). “Jenni Russell wins Orwell prize for political journalism”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Jones, Sam (24 May 2012). “Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman wins Orwell prize”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Devlin, Mike (16 May 2013). “Journalist Wins Orwell Prize for Investigative Journalism – Stephensons Solicitors LLP”. Stephensons Solicitors LLP. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Williams, Martin (21 May 2014). “Two Guardian journalists win Orwell prize for journalism”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ Ratcliffe, Rebecca (21 May 2015). “Guardian journalist Martin Chulov wins Orwell prize for Middle East coverage”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “Gideon Rachman wins 2016 Orwell Prize for journalism”. Financial Times. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “Alumna wins prestigious Orwell Prize for Journalism”. City, University of London. Retrieved 26 May 2017.

^ “SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED: THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR JOURNALISM 2018” (PDF). The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 22 July 2022.

^ “Suzanne Moore”. The Orwell Foundation. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ “Steve Bloomfield”. The Orwell Foundation. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

^ a b Marsh, Sarah (25 June 2021). “Guardian journalists win Orwell prize for video series”. the Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ a b c “The Orwell Prizes 2021: The Shortlists | The Orwell Foundation”. www.orwellfoundation.com. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ “Professor of Sociology shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2021”. Professor of Sociology shortlisted for The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2021. 28 May 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ “Winners 2022”. The Orwell Foundation. 14 July 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ “Finalists 2022”. The Orwell Foundation. 17 May 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ “In telling their life stories, we seek to restore dignity to society’s ‘ghosts'”. The Guardian. 28 May 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 May 2017.

^ Robinson, James (19 May 2010). “Orwell Prize goes to blogger who writes about ‘working with the underclass'”. The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2022.

^ “Graeme Archer”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ “Cath Elliott”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ “Daniel Hannan”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ “Duncan McLaren”. The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 13 December 2018.

^ Halliday, Josh (27 September 2011). “Johann Hari faces fresh plagiarism allegations”. The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 September 2011.

^ Hari, Johann (15 September 2011). “Johann Hari: A personal apology”. The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022.

^ Gunter, Joel (27 September 2011). “Orwell Prize will not pursue Hari over failure to return money”. www.journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2011.

^ Pugh, Andrew (27 September 2011). “Johann Hari yet to return Orwell prize £2,000”. Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2017.

^ “The Orwell Prize and Johann Hari”. English PEN. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2019.

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