George Monbiot wins Orwell prize for journalism

Author recognised for his decades-long commitment to neglected environmental issues

The “elegant, urgent writing” of George Monbiot has seen the author, environmentalist and Guardian columnist win the prestigious Orwell prize for journalism.

The prize is awarded for commentary or reporting that comes closest to meeting the ambition of George Orwell, the novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, to “make political writing into an art”.

Monbiot won the prize for his almost four-decade-long fight to raise the profiles of a wide range of neglected environmental issues, most recently leading the calls to rewild our desertified and sheep-scraped landscape.

“In the finest tradition of George Orwell’s journalism, George Monbiot draws on a vast reserve of knowledge to write with wit, elegance, forensic insight, and sustained and justified anger about the most important, and most neglected, crisis facing humanity,” said Isabel Hilton, one of the prize’s judges.

“His targets range from organised crime to criminal political indifference, and he leaves us in no doubt about what we must do to survive,” added Hilton, who is also a journalist and founder of China Dialogue.

In his latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet, Monbiot explains why farming is, in his words, “the most destructive human activity ever to have blighted the Earth” and what we can do to stop it.

Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell Foundation and professor of media history at the University of Westminster, said: “Orwell took pleasure in flowers, was consoled by watching toads and observed the environment in all his work. George Monbiot has a life of elegant, urgent writing about the single greatest threat we must square up to – Orwell would, I think, approve of his winning the Orwell prize.”

Monbiot has written a number of bestselling books, including Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning and Out of the Wreckage: a New Politics for an Age of Crisis.

Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

He has also made a number of viral videos. One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40m times. Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, which he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 50m times.

Monbiot also co-wrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan.

The judges for this year’s Orwell prize for journalism also included Helen Hawkins, ex-culture editor at The Times, Marcus Ryder, head of external consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity and chair of Rada, and Sameer Padania, author and independent journalism consultant.


Amelia Hill

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Suzanne Moore of the Guardian wins Orwell prize for journalism
Articles on Brexit and #MeToo aftermath make columnist joint winner with Steve Bloomfield of Prospect

Matthew Weaver

26, Jun, 2019 @11:02 AM

Article image
Citizen Clem: 'extraordinary biography' of Clement Attlee wins Orwell prize
John Bew’s life of the self-effacing founder of the NHS praised by judges as a ‘monument to the greatest leader the Labour party has ever had’

Danuta Kean

15, Jun, 2017 @7:31 PM

Article image
Hillsborough, Brexit and gun control: 2017 Orwell prize shortlist announced
With Orwell back in headlines due to the rise of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, six books with ‘something prescient to say’ are up for best political writing prize

Danuta Kean

15, May, 2017 @7:00 PM

Article image
Guardian journalist Martin Chulov wins Orwell prize for Middle East coverage
Reporter recognised for his coverage of the crises across the Arab world and the rise of the Islamic State

Rebecca Ratcliffe

22, May, 2015 @12:03 AM

Article image
Two books about Northern Irish Troubles win Orwell prize 2019
Anna Burns’ Milkman and Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing win political fiction and political writing awards

Amy Walker

25, Jun, 2019 @7:30 PM

Article image
Orwell Prize goes to blogger who writes about 'working with the underclass'
Judges praise anonymous author of Winston Smith blog for accounts of his encounters with unruly teenagers and the 'useless' social services system

James Robinson

19, May, 2010 @7:01 PM

Seven journalists shortlisted for Orwell prize for journalism

Three journalists also nominated for books prize

Roy Greenslade

25, Apr, 2014 @7:41 AM

Article image
Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman wins Orwell prize
Judges reward 'beautifully crafted examinations of hardship, welfare and justice' in series of articles

Sam Jones

24, May, 2012 @10:22 AM

Article image
George Orwell casts long shadow over prize
Will Skidelsky: Displaying Orwellian attributes aplenty Tom Bingham's The Rule of Law and Afsaneh Moqadam's Death to the Dictator! were my top picks when judging this year's Orwell book prize

Will Skidelsky

17, May, 2011 @6:40 PM

Article image
Three Guardian journalists nominated for the Orwell prize for journalism

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Aditya Chakrabortty and Jonathan Freedland are among the seven nominated for the prize

Conal Urquhart

24, Apr, 2014 @6:21 PM