Orwell in Paris: François Villon

François Villon had, I suppose, as rough a time as any poet in our own day, and the literary man starving in a garret was one of the characteristic figures of the eighteenth century Orwell, Tribune, 8 September 1944 Three weeks after arriving in Paris, with the romantic goal of finding subjects and inspiration for […]

Orwell in Paris: le MonT-Parnasse

. “No issues of le MonT-Parnasse for 1928–30 have been traced, so it is not possible to tell whether that journal published anything of Orwell’s.”                                                              […]

Orwell in Paris: Under Surveillance

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) spied on George Orwell (aka Eric Blair) during 1929 when he lived in Paris. The report was written by an intelligence officer codenamed “V.V.” who had, like Blair, commenced his career in the Indian Imperial Police and was later to approve the recruitment of notorious double agent, Kim Philby. . […]

Orwell in Burma: The Two Erics*

Eric Frank Seeley (1902-1972) and Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950) first met at Eton College, then reconnected in Rangoon during the mid-1920s. This paper argues that a limited, problematic representation of Seeley and his ‘Indian lady’ in Orwell scholarship has resulted in significant contextual information being suppressed, overlooked or misunderstood. More detailed knowledge of Seeley’s life […]

Did Orwell Have Asperger’s?

Did Orwell have Asperger’s? The answer – in popular psychology books, newspaper articles, tweets and society journals – appears to be yes!  Or is this pseudo-scientific nonsense best not proliferated? The idea that Orwell had Asperger’s was first posited by Professor Michael Fitzgerald in his book, The Genesis of Artistic Creativity: Asperger’s Syndrome and The […]

Orwell’s Scottish Ancestry and Slavery*

How much did Orwell know about his Scottish ancestry? His well-known prejudice against the Scots conceivably emanated from the distaste he felt for the way wealth was accrued by his forebears. These progenitors, who owned plantations in Jamaica from 1699, had a much greater involvement with the institution of slavery than previously understood. It is […]

Orwell in Paris: War Correspondent*

Wearing the uniform of a British officer, George Orwell returned to Paris in February 1945 as a war correspondent for The Observer and Manchester Evening News. He had resigned as the literary editor at Tribune who promptly announced, “George Orwell has gone to France where he will stay for approximately two months”. He would end […]

Eric Blair in Katha

Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Indian Imperial Police Force, Eric Arthur Blair, was based in Upper Burma, at Katha, from 23 December 1926 until he departed the country in mid-July 1927. The remote town, that was home to approximately 3000 local residents, became the setting for his first novel, Burmese Days. George Stuart, who […]

2+2=

Which edition of George Orwell’s most famous novel is on your shelf and why does it matter? The first British and American editions of Orwell’s great satirical novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in June 1949, conclude with the protagonist, Winston Smith, intellectually and physically broken by an oppressive totalitarian regime. This is symbolised by the disturbing image of […]

Homage to Stansky and Abrahams: Orwell’s first biographers*

“I request that no memorial service be held for me after my death and that no biography of me shall be written.”  (Eric Blair, 18 January 1950) “Perhaps Orwell was right to resist the idea of a biography and one might regret helping to start the onslaught. But it was bound to happen.” (Peter Stansky, […]

Orwell in Paris: Aunt Nellie

George Orwell aka Eric Blair (1903-1950) died seventy years ago today, on the 21st January 1950. His favourite aunt, Nellie Limouzin (1870-1950), passed away five months later in tragically sad circumstances. While researching Orwell’s years in Paris it struck me how profoundly she influenced and shaped her nephew’s early experiences, especially his literary and political […]

Orwell’s typewriter

“I am just on the grisly job of typing out my novel. I can’t type much because it tires me too much to sit up at table, and I asked Roger Senhouse to try and send me a stenog. for a fortnight, but of course it’s not so easy to get people for short periods […]

Leon Gellert, George Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four

“As a child I lived in a home that was full of books … Rare works and first editions were kept under lock and key, and it took all my skill with a hairpin to gain entry to them.”     Leon Gellert As an enthusiastic collector of books by George Orwell (1903-50), the discovery that a […]

Orwell’s Scottish Ancestry & Slavery*

This post has been updated. Read this one. “He hated Scotsmen!”    Kay Ekevall “He wrote under the name ‘Orwell’, partly because he preferred separate identity as an author, partly because he disliked he idea of family origins in Scotland.”  Anthony Powell   Slave Owner: Blair Come here! You ! Adam ! You’d better jump a […]

Orwell’s Streptomycin

“I am a lot better, but I had a bad fortnight with the secondary effects of the streptomycin. I suppose with all these drugs it’s rather a case of sinking the ship to get rid of the rats.”                         George Orwell: A Life in Letters On returning home […]

Tombs: Sharing Orwell’s Penchant for Puncturing Shibboleths

This review originally appeared in  George Orwell Studies Volume 3 Number 2. George Orwell continues to have an extraordinary influence on how the English view England, writes Darcy Moore in his review of an important contemporary work of history. The English and Their History: The First Thirteen Centuries (2014) by Robert Tombs has deservingly been described as […]

Orwell in Paris: Edith Morgan

“I have heard briefly from Edith Morgan, at Christmas. She was visiting in Rome.”                                                                                    […]

Orwell in Paris: Ruth Graves II

“I came back to America in 1939, in October, but do not feel that I am at home yet. New York has been most inhospitable – and I am a rebel in a world that has become so regimented that I can find no foothold in it. I have all the more a desire to […]

Orwell in Paris: Ruth Graves

“Among the letters in Orwell’s possession at his death was one from Ruth Graves, whom he had known twenty years earlier, in Paris. She had, she said, read all his essays but had been prompted to write on hearing Animal Farm described on the radio…as the ‘outstanding political satire of all time.’” Peter Davison (CW […]

Collecting Orwell: A Kind of Compulsion*

*Originally published in George Orwell Studies There are few 20th century writers as collectable as George Orwell. Rare book auctions regularly fetch extraordinary prices, especially for his works published in the 1930s. Even secondhand bookshops have a paucity of battered paperbacks on display. Orwell sells and readers hold on to their copies. Darcy Moore reflects on what […]

The Diaries of Henry Osborne (Part 2)

Reading Henry’s diaries is taking longer than expected. Tumbling down the research rabbit hole every few pages is a time-consuming pleasure. Is that book Henry mentioned available readily online? How well did British officials understand Bengali and other local languages? Who were these linguists serving the civil service? What is a Gomashtah? How did the British rule and run their empire and what […]

Who We Are and How We Got Here by David Reich #review and my #reading in April

“The breakthrough that all archaeologists have been waiting for; a truly exciting account of the way in which ancient DNA is making us rethink prehistory. Essential reading for everyone interested in the past.”   Barry Cunliffe “In just five years the study of ancient DNA has transformed our understanding of world prehistory. The geneticist David Reich, […]

The Diaries of Henry Osborne (Part I)

“A sub-deputy’s job was to supervise the poppy growers in his district and make sure the crop was cultivated in the most efficient way. The government itself made cash advances to cultivators, purchased their product, carried on the manufacturing process and made the final sale of the poppy juice to the factories and exporters in […]

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