Deborah Orr

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Deborah Orr
Deborah Jane Orr

(1962-09-23) 23 September 1962 (age 56)
Motherwell, Scotland
ResidenceStockwell, South London
EmployerThe Guardian
Partner(s)Will Self (mar. 1997, separated)[1]
Children2 sons

Deborah Jane Orr (born 23 September 1962)[2] is a Scottish journalist who has worked for The Guardian, The Independent and other titles. She was born and raised in Motherwell, Scotland.[3][4][5]


Orr worked as deputy editor for City Limits magazine, a workers' cooperative Orr ultimately found frustrating,[6] and as a contributor to New Statesman until 1990. She first joined The Guardian in that year, a publication for which she has been a columnist. She was previously a columnist for The Independent and editor of the Guardian Weekend magazine (1993–98).[2] Her regular column for The Guardian ended in January 2018 when the newspaper relaunched in a tabloid format.[7] She joined the i newspaper in February 2018 as a regular columnist.


Orr feels the UK public sector should be doing more and disadvantaged people should get more help. She wrote, "Homeless people are stuck in the streets once again. The services of food banks have never been more in demand. People with mental and physical illnesses or disabilities are dying for want of care, or even heat. The National Health Service has been plunged into a financial and staffing crisis, yet still has to soothe the dented ego of Richard Branson by making a payout to Virgin Care. The teaching profession is struggling once more with a rejigged exam system, and is bracing itself for a further squeeze on budgets. Our prison service is a series of riots waiting to happen."[8]

On 19 October 2011, an article by Orr stated that the trade for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners "acknowledges what so many Zionists believe - that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours."[9] This statement, viewed by many as anti-Semitic, was the subject of much criticism.[10] Orr apologised for words which she described as "badly chosen and poorly used".[11] Her apology, too, was the subject of much criticism.[12][13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Orr married Will Self in 1997. They have two sons and lived in Stockwell;[3][15] they separated in 2017.[1]

She has been treated for breast cancer.[16]


  1. ^ a b Appleyard, Bryan (21 May 2017). "Calling the modern world to account". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 8 July 2017. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "Ms Deborah Orr's Biography". Debrett's People of Today. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b Donaldson, Brian (15 July 2010). "Will Self at the Edinburgh International Book Festival". Edinburgh Festival Guide. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  4. ^ Orr, Deborah "Politics and the death of social mobility", The Guardian, 19 May 2010
  5. ^ Orr, Deborah "I never knew my home town was a hotbed of religious fundamentalism". The Independent, 5 May 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  6. ^ Orr, Deborah (30 March 2012). "Listening is fantastically powerful and soothing – we need more of it". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  7. ^ Wilby, Peter (18 January 2018). "Black and white and not red all over: the incredible shrinking Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  8. ^ The Damian Green fiasco exposes Theresa May as a trapped and wounded leader The Guardian
  9. ^ Is an Israeli life really more important than a Palestinian's? | World news | The Guardian
  10. ^ "Diaspora - Jewish diaspora - The Jerusalem Post".
  11. ^ Orr, Deborah (26 October 2011). "Why it's right to weigh your words carefully" – via
  12. ^ Guardian: 'reputation tarnished' | The Jewish Chronicle
  13. ^ They just don't get it - tolerance of Jew-hate set to live on | The Jewish Chronicle
  14. ^ Elliott, Chris (6 November 2011). "The readers' editor on… averting accusations of antisemitism" – via
  15. ^ McGibbon, Rob (29 March 2006). "Press Conference With...WILL SELF". PressGazette. Retrieved 6 October 2012.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "For a moment I really thought my husband had won the Booker. But no!". The Guardian. 19 October 2012. He was already deeply involved in it when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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