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The Orwell Prize

The Orwell PrizeThe Orwell Prize was set up in 1994 by the late Sir Bernard Crick, funded by the hardback royalties of his biography of George Orwell. It rewards political writing that, in the opinion of the judges, comes closest to George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art". Crick served as Chair of the judging panel until 2006, whereupon he was replaced by Professor Jean Seaton. Each year's judges are presented with a set of Orwell's values to aid their decision-making.

The prize began with two categories, Book and Journalism, with a third, Blog, being added in 2009. It is open to writing with a British or Irish connection published in the previous calendar year. Each category winner receives £3000.

Longlists are announced in the spring, usually featuring 18 contenders for the Book Prize and 12 for each of the other two categories. The shortlists, announced a few weeks later, feature six contenders in each category. The winner is announced in late May or early June.

In additon there have been two Special awards: in 2007 to the BBC's Newsnight and in 2008 to Clive James. Tony Judt was given a Lifetime Achievement award in 2009 and Carol Blue collected a psothumous Memorial award on behalf of her husband,Christopher HItchens.

The one major controversy involving the Prize came in the aftermath of the 2008 award of the Journalism Prize to Independent writer Johanni Hari. In 2011, the award was withdrawn after one of his articles for which he won was revealed to have plagiarised from Der Spiegel. Hari returned the plaque he had been awarded and, some time later, made a charitable donation to the value of the prize money.

The 2016 winner, announced 26th May, was Arkady for The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War. The judges were Andrew Gamble, David Goodhart, Fiammetta Rocco and chair, William Waldegrave. Lord Waldegrave said 'In a very strong field, Arkady Ostrovsky’s deeply felt and wonderfully knowledgeable account of the genesis of Putin’s Russia stood out as an important and timely book. It is a very worthy winner of the Orwell Prize, dealing as it does with the themes of media manipulation and the control of language, which were very close to George Orwell’s own heart.'

 

2016 shortlist (books)

Circling the Square: Stories from the...
(Paperback)
Wendell Steavenson
 
In January 2011, as the crowds gathered to protest Mubarak's three decades of rule in Egypt, Wendell Steavenson went to Cairo to cover the story. But the revolution...
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Stores - out of stock

Other People's Money: Masters of the...
(Paperback)
John Kay
 
Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2016 We all depend on the finance sector. We need it to store our money, manage our payments, finance housing stock, restore...
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The Invention of Russia: The Journey...
(Hardback)
Arkady Ostrovsky
 
The timely and gripping story of Russia since the collapse of Communism, by The Economist's Moscow bureau chief.
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£20.00
 
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The New Threat from Islamic Militancy
(Paperback)
Jason Burke
 
From Syria to Somalia, from Libya to Indonesia, from Yemen to the capitals of Europe, Islamic militancy appears stronger, more widespread and more threatening than ever. ISIS and groups such...
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The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money...
(Paperback)
Ferdinand Mount
 
Acontroversial history of the British in India, seen through the experiences of a single family, the Lows, ancestors of the author, Ferdinand Mount
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£12.99
 
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The Unravelling: High Hopes and ...
(Paperback)
Emma Sky
 
The riveting first-hand account of a young British civilian woman who volunteered to help rebuild Iraq immediately after the invasion in 2003, and soon found herself as a political advisor...
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Previous winners of the Book Prize

2015 Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek

2014 This Boy by Alan Johnson

2013 A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa by A T Williams

2012 Dead Men Risen by Toby Harnden

2011 The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham

2010 Keeper: A Book About Memory, Identity, Isolation, Wordsworth and Cake by Andrea Gillies

2009 Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared by Andrew Brown

2008 Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape by Raja Shehadeh

2007 Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties by Peter Hennessy

2006 Moses, Citizen and Me by Delia Jarrett-Macauley

2005 The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class by Michael Collins

2004 The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty First Century by Robert Cooper

2003 Hoo-Hahs and Passing Frenzies: Collected Journalism 1991-2000 by Francis Wheen (currently out of print)

2002 Anthony Blunt: His Lives by Miranda Carter

2001 Virtual War by Michael Ignatieff (currently out of print)

2000 The Case of Stephen Lawrence by Brian Cathcart (currently out of print)

1999 Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life by DM Thomas

1998 Jennie Lee: A Life by Patricia Hollis (currently out of print)

1997 Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin

1996 Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey by Fergal Keane

1995 In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland by Fionnuala O'Connor (currently out of print)

1994 The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence by Anatol Lieven


For winners of the Journalism and Blog categories, see the official Orwell Prize website.

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