The Orwell Prize, based at University College London, is a British prize for political writing of outstanding quality. Two prizes are awarded each year: one for a book and one for journalism; between 2009 and 2012, a third 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".
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" . In 2015, The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain's Social Evils, sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was launched.
Bernard Crick founded the prize in 1993, using money from the royalties of the hardback edition of his biography of Orwell. Its sponsors are Orwell's adopted son Richard Blair, The Political Quarterly, and A. M. Heath & Company. The Prize was formerly sponsored by the Media Standards Trust. Crick remained Chair of the judges until 2006; since 2007, the media historian Professor Jean Seaton has been the Director of the prize.
Winners and shortlists
- 1994 Anatol Lieven The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence
- 1995 Fionnuala O'Connor In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland
- 1996 Fergal Keane Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey
- 1997 Peter Godwin Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
- 1998 Patricia Hollis Jennie Lee: A Life
- 1999 D. M. Thomas Alexander Solzhenitsyn: a Century in His Life
- 2000 Brian Cathcart The Case of Stephen Lawrence
- 2001 Michael Ignatieff Virtual War
- 2002 Miranda Carter Anthony Blunt: His Lives
- 2003 Francis Wheen Hoo-hahs and Passing Frenzies: Collected Journalism 1991–2000
- 2004 Robert Cooper The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty First Century
- 2005 Michael Collins The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class
- 2006 Delia Jarrett-Macauley Moses, Citizen and Me
- 2007 Peter Hennessy Having It So Good: Britain in the 1950s
- Andrew Brown Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the future that disappeared
- Tony Judt – Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century
- Owen Matthews – Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love and War
- Hsiao-Hung Pai – Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour
- Ahmed Rashid – Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia
- Mark Thompson – The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915–1918
- Andrea Gillies Keeper
- Christopher de Bellaigue – Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples
- Petina Gappah – An Elegy for Easterly
- John Kampfner – Freedom For Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty
- Kenan Malik – From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy
- Michela Wrong – It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle Blower
- Tom Bingham – The Rule of Law
- Afsaneh Moqadam – Death to the Dictator!: Witnessing Iran's election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic
- Christopher Hitchens – Hitch-22
- Oliver Bullough – Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys among the defiant people of the Caucasus
- D. R. Thorpe – Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan
- Helen Dunmore – The Betrayal
- A. T. Williams – A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa
- Carmen Bugan – Burying the Typewriter
- Pankaj Mishra – From the Ruins of the Empire
- Clive Stafford Smith – Injustice
- Richard Holloway – Leaving Alexandria
- Raja Shehadeh – Occupation Diaries
- Marie Colvin – On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin
- James Meek – Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else
- Rana Dasgupta – Capital: The Eruption of Delhi
- Nick Davies – Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch
- Dan Davies – In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
- David Kynaston – Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957–1959
- Louisa Lim – People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited
- 1994 Neal Ascherson
- 1995 Paul Foot and Tim Laxton
- 1996 Melanie Phillips
- 1997 Ian Bell
- 1998 Polly Toynbee
- 1999 Robert Fisk
- 2000 David McKittrick
- 2001 David Aaronovitch
- 2002 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
- 2003 Brian Sewell
- 2004 Vanora Bennett
- 2005 Matthew Parris
- 2006 Timothy Garton Ash
- 2007 Peter Beaumont
- 2008 Johann Hari (prize revoked in 2011, monetary award not returned)
- 2009 Patrick Cockburn
- 2010 Peter Hitchens
- 2011 Jenni Russell
- 2012 Amelia Gentleman – The Guardian
- 2013 Andrew Norfolk (The Times) and Tom Bergin (Reuters)
- 2014 Ghaith Abdul-Ahad – The Guardian
- 2015 Martin Chulov – The Guardian
- Oliver Bullough – Various
- Iona Craig – Various
- David Gardner – International Affairs Editor, Financial Times
- Shiraz Maher – The Guardian, New Statesman
- Douglas Murray – Standpoint, Spectator
- Gideon Rachman – Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist, Financial Times
- Louise Tickle – The Guardian, Family Law Journal
Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils
- 2009 Richard Horton: "NightJack– An English Detective" 
- 2010 Winston Smith (pseudonym): "Working with the Underclass" 
- Hopi Sen – "Hopi Sen" 
- David Allen Green – "Jack of Kent: A liberal and critical blog mainly about the misuse and misrepresentation of law" 
- Laurie Penny – "Penny Red" and others 
- Madam Miaow (pseudonym) – "Madam Miaow says: Of culture, pop-culture and petri dishes" 
- Tim Marshall – "Foreign Matters"
- 2011 Graeme Archer: ConservativeHome
- 2012 Rangers Tax Case
In 2007, BBC's Newsnight programme was given a special award, 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. A posthumous award was made to Christopher Hitchens in 2012, his book Arguably having been longlisted that year.
In 2008 the winner in the Journalism category was Johann Hari. In July 2011 the Orwell Prize Council 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. 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". A few weeks later, the Council of the Orwell Prize confirmed that Hari had returned the plaque but not the £2000 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)". In October 2011, the NGO English PEN confirmed that Johann Hari had offered a donation equal to the prize money, in accordance with the wishes of the Orwell Prize trustees.
- "The award". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "The Orwell Youth Prize". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
- "The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain's Social Evils". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
- "The sponsors". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "A brief history". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
- "A Brief History". TheOrwellPrize.co.uk.
- Alison Flood (21 May 2014). "Alan Johnson wins Orwell political writing prize for memoir This Boy". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Pugh, Andrew (27 September 2011). "Johann Hari yet to return Orwell prize £2,000". Press Gazette. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "Winners". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- "Foreign Matters Blog – Foreign policy and affairs, analysis and insights | Sky News Blogs". Blogs.news.sky.com. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "Afghan war book wins Orwell Prize for political writing". BBC News. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- 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.
- Gunter, Joel. "Orwell Prize will not pursue Hari over failure to return money". www.journalism.co.uk. www.journalism.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- "News". English Pen.