Orwell’s Scottish Ancestry

“… sufficient evidence remains to be able to assert with confidence that Orwell was in male line descent from Alexander de Blair who flourished in the first half of the 13th century.”                                               […]

Lost Orwell BBC Radio Transcript Found in India

George Orwell was employed in the Indian Section of the BBC’s Eastern Service during World War Two but no recording of his voice has survived. A cache of his BBC radio scripts was discovered forty years ago – but many are still lost.  My lengthy list of ideas to pursue, people and sites to visit […]

Orwell’s Family: Aunt Nellie

“Miss Elaine Limouzin’s recital at the Salle Erard on Thursday evening, May 4th, drew a large audience, which thoroughly appreciated the very agreeable entertainment… Miss Limouzin has an effective way of writing drolleries for herself, and her bright fun in telling one of her own pieces – “Henry Sees Life” – an account of a […]

“Eros with Chilblains”

In 1930, Ruth Pitter (1897-1992) wrote a comic poem parodying her relationship with the man who was to become George Orwell. “Eros with Chilblains”, Pitter’s ironic reaction to Eric Blair’s attempts at seduction, remained unpublished in her lifetime. Ruth Pitter’s observations of Eric Blair’s struggle to become a writer, during the period 1927-33, make her […]

Orwell & La Tribune Indochinoise

Why were two of the earliest pieces of Orwell’s journalism, written in Paris during the late 1920s when he was still E.-A. Blair, published by a newspaper in Saigon?  E.-A. Blair published four personal essays in a left-wing weekly Parisian newspaper, Le Progrès Civique: Journal de Perfectionnement Social, during 1928-1929. Three of the articles explored poverty […]

Orwell: the Map & the Territory

“Once a biographer has mastered his subject, sucked it dry as an ant does an aphid and stored its own juice in his own book, the rest of us need no longer bother our heads about inconvenient notions the biographer’s subject may have offered for our consideration.”   Germaine Greer “A map is not the territory […]

Eric, Cini & Tom

“When Eric returned to England in 1927, he spent a fortnight with Auntie Lilian at Ticklerton, where Prosper and Guiny were then staying. But completely unavoidable circumstances prevented me from joining the party.”     Jacintha Buddicom, Eric & Us (1974)                                  […]

E. Limouzin

“I have begun the Chartreuse de Parme, but have read only a few pages as yet, for I saw a reference in some work to The Prince and, as I had never read it, I have begun that also and am about half way through it. I suppose you have read it long ago, probably […]

Orwell & the Earl of Cardigan

“She was the mistress of a peer of the Realm for over thirty years but would not marry him when the subject was raised because his intellect was not, apparently, equal to his sex drive.”  Eric & Us (2006) Eric Blair, better known by his pen-name George Orwell, proposed marriage on more than one occasion […]

Orwell in Cornwall

While holidaying in Cornwall with his family during the summer of 1927, Eric Blair announced his intention to quit a well-paid job with the Indian Imperial Police to become a writer. Six years later he published his first book as George Orwell. This was not the first time the Blair family had holidayed in Cornwall […]

Orwell & Van Gogh

“I want this one to be a work of art, & that can’t be done without much bloody sweat.”                                                                         […]

Orwellian Literary Curios

Bibliophiles love literary curios and, with such a fascinating publishing history, George Orwell is a particularly interesting and collectible author. Often Orwell published in obscure leftwing periodicals, with small print circulations, even after the fame Animal Farm (1945) bought him. Contextually, it is often quite illuminating to see the publications where his writing first appeared. […]

Orwell’s Ayah

“The ayah is a most important personage in the Anglo-Indian nursery, one on whom very often the whole future health and happiness of the English child depends, and yet how little care is often taken in her selection!”           The English Baby in India (1893) On the day Eric Blair was baptised by […]

Nineteen Eighty-Four OR 1984?

My new book is a Utopia in the form of a novel. I ballsed it up rather, partly owing to being so ill while I was writing it, but I think some of the ideas in it might interest you. We haven’t definitively fixed the title, but I think it will be called “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.  […]

Orwell & Empire by Douglas Kerr*

Orwell & Empire Douglas Kerr Oxford University Press, 2022, pp 240 ISBN: 978 0 192 86409 3 Once there was a British writer, an Englishman who was born in India. He was privately educated in England, did not go to university, returned to the East after leaving school, and lived and worked there for a […]

A Tribute to Professor Peter Davison

“It would be dishonest of me not to feel pleasure and, indeed, pride, when I see the twenty volumes of The Complete Works and the facsimile of the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four on my shelves.”                                         […]

Orwell’s Rats

‘The rat,’ said O’Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, ‘although a rodent is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats […]

George Orwell’s Parents

“I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject-matter will be determined by the age he lives in—at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own—but before he ever begins to write he will have […]

Orwell, Newspeak & Esperanto

“Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in The Times were written in it, […]

On Tolkien and Orwell

On first looking at J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) and George Orwell (1903-1950) they appear to have little in common, as men or writers, other than being peculiarly English authors with evergreen book sales. The year 1937 was a seminal one for both men and useful for highlighting their different lifestyles, politics and literary experiences. Tolkien, the […]

Such, Such Were The Joys

“As for St Cyprian’s, for years I loathed its very name so deeply that I could not view it with enough detachment to see the significance of the things that happened to me there. In a way it is only within the last decade that I have really thought over my schooldays, vividly though their […]

The Ukrainian Animal Farm

“More than 150,000 Ukrainian refugees have now crossed into neighbouring countries, half of them to Poland, and many to Hungary, Moldova, Romania and beyond. Displacement in Ukraine is also growing but the military situation makes it difficult to estimate numbers and provide aid.”                          […]

The Life & Times of Simon Moore

There was a story my aunt told about our third great-grandfather, an Irish Roman Catholic, who had been transported to the Colony of NSW for horse stealing. She believed Simon Moore (1800-1857), after he was pardoned, became a jockey, ironically (and legally) riding horses for the English. On closer inspection, the tale has a somewhat […]

A Photograph of George Orwell

A long-forgotten photograph of George Orwell, posted to the American editors of a literary dictionary in the early days of WWII, provides a glimpse of the writer before he was ravaged by tuberculosis. In March 1940, Orwell was contacted by Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, the editors of Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary […]

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