2020 Dystopian Fiction Prize

Orwell Bust with OS logo



2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the death of George Orwell, author of the dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four. As part of our activities marking the anniversary, The Orwell Society is organising its sixth annual short story competition for current students (both BA and MA) at British universities. Dystopian narratives of 3,000 words should be sent to Professor Richard Lance Keeble, chair of The Orwell Society, via dystopianfictioncompetition@orwellsociety.com, by 14 February 2020.

The judging panel comprises Richard Blair, the son of George Orwell and Patron of The Orwell Society; Dr Julie Wheelwright, of City, University of London; Dr Luke Seaber, tutor in Modern European Culture at University College London; and Professor Keeble. All submissions are assessed anonymously. The prize of £500 will be announced on 16 March and comes with a trophy which is a bust of Orwell (to be returned at the end of the award year). They will be handed over by Richard Blair at the Society’s AGM later in the year.

The judges will be looking for the narrative which best follows in the tradition set by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four and which Orwell is most likely to have admired. The winning entry will be published in the Society’s Journal.

Last year the prize was won by Jon Platten, of the University of East Anglia. Tim Bancroft, of Birmingham City University, was the winner in 2015 while Holly Domney, on City University London’s MA in Creative Writing and Publishing, won in 2016. She commented: ‘Winning the prize is a stellar thing to have on your CV and such a fantastic talking point in an interview.’ And she gave this advice to entrants: ‘I took a simple idea and wasn’t afraid to take it to the extreme and make it dark. Always have an agenda when you write, mine was to promote equality between the sexes, what’s yours?’ Maja Olsen, also on City’s MA in Creative Writing and Publishing, winner in 2017, commented: ‘Writing a dystopia is a fantastic way to comment on society or to say: “If we don’t watch out, this is what our reality can look like.” It is also a very exciting genre to write.’

All submissions should be in a Word file (not PDF) and begin with a cover page providing title of story, name of author, name of university, name of programme studying on, and full contact details (address, telephone etc). The story should be presented in 12 pt Times Roman double spaced – with each page numbered and it should end with a word count.


Our thanks to the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for the support which has allowed us to drop the entry fee to this year’s Dystopian Fiction Prize. (30 October 2019).

Uploaded 26 October 2019

Reference to entry fee removed 28 October 2019


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