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Inaugural George Orwell Society Award bestowed by famed writer's son

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Adesayo receiving her award from the Orwell Society. From left to right - Dr Peter Wilkin, Adesayo Talabi, Richard Blair, Dr Richard Keeble

A student journalist who confronted female genital mutilation and the plight of the homeless has scooped the inaugural George Orwell Society Award at Brunel University London.

Adesayo Talabi, 21, from Luton, received her prize of £100 from Richard Blair, son of famed journalist George Orwell, and patron of the society that now bears his father’s name.

“I have always been a lover of the uncomfortable truth,” said Adesayo, who recently graduated with a Journalism BA from Brunel.

 “It’s an honour to be recognised for just being yourself, for expressing yourself, and sharing your understanding of the world – I found out that all the right people were listening.”

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Famed journalist and writer George Orwell penned two of modern literature's most famous works - 1984 and Animal Farm

The award challenged Brunel’s student journalists to follow in Orwell’s footsteps and demonstrate a ferocious commitment to pursuing the truth. Adesayo impressed the judges with her take on hard-hitting stories such as homelessness, female genital mutilation, and the execution of an innocent man.

Steve Cohen, a lecturer in journalism at Brunel, said: “We wanted to reward someone who wrote passionately about social justice. In Adesayo, we found a writer with a unique new voice who may make a very big difference in the world of journalism.”

The award was named after George Orwell – real name Eric Arthur Blair – because of his links to the Brunel’s local area, having taught in Hayes during the 1930s. He later went on to become a prolific essayist, journalist and writer, penning two of modern literature’s most famous works, 1984 and Animal Farm.

Founded in 2011, The George Orwell Society is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of the work of writer, who died in 1950 at the age of just 46. 

Richard Blair, Patron of the Orwell Society said: “On behalf of the Orwell Society, I would like to congratulate Adesayo Talabi for being the first winner of the Orwell prize for Journalism at Brunel University.

“Her work demonstrated an original voice and clarity of thought, and captured some of the social and political urgency that was so typical of Orwell’s work. We look forward to working with Brunel University in the future and to help more students to take up their pens and be inspired to emulate Orwell’s penetrating thoughts.”

Adesayo, who currently writes for social news platform Blasting News, is now working on the launch of Vybl (Voice Of Young Black Leaders), a new online magazine aimed at black students. The new platform, created alongside students from various universities, will cover cultural, political and entertainment stories relevant to students of African and Caribbean decent.

She said: “I’m passionate about the truth and promised myself that I would dedicate my life to speaking it – especially in my career. Ruffling a few feathers isn’t enough, I plan on pulling them out.”

For further information on Journalism BA at Brunel, please visit https://www.brunel.ac.uk/journalism

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268965