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Orwell Prize for political writing awarded at the University of Westminster

31 May 2016

Orwell Prize for Political Writing

Richard Blair, son of George Orwell, presented this year’s Orwell Prize at the University of Westminster’s Regent Campus on 26 May. The prize celebrates books and journalism which come closest to Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing into an art’.

Professor Jean Seaton, Director of The Orwell Prize, and Professor of Media History in the University’s Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design opened the evening with a short talk and then the winners were announced. 

Arkady Ostrovsky’s The Invention of Russia (Atlantic Books) won the Orwell Prize for Books for its account of Russia’s post-Soviet transformation from Gorbachev’s freedom to Putin’s war and the central role played by the media in creating Russia’s national narrative. Ostrovsky is a Russian-born British journalist who has spent fifteen years reporting from Russia as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. 

Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the winner of the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2016 was announced to be Nicci Gerrard for her reporting on the care and understanding of dementia patients in the UK in The Observer and on social media. Gerrard’s reporting and its associated ‘John’s Campaign’, which campaigns for the rights of families and carers to stay with people with dementia in hospital, has raised the issues onto the policy agenda. Her writing and the campaign were motivated by the decline whilst in hospital of Gerrard’s father, Dr John Gerrard, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. 

Two journalists shared the third Orwell Prize, the award for Journalism: Financial Times’ Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist Gideon Rachman and freelance journalist Iona Craig for “two distinct schools of journalism”. Rachman’s prize-winning portfolio contains “Olympian” commentary on and analysis of international politics, while Craig won for frontline reporting on the conflict in Yemen.

Richard Blair presented each winner with an exclusive trophy, and the winners share a £3000 prize.

The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, sponsored and supported by Political Quarterly, AM Heath and Richard Blair.

The awards ceremony was followed by a drinks reception where journalists, academics, publishers, authors, The Orwell Prize and University of Westminster representatives came together to celebrate political writing as a form of art.

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