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.”                          […]

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 […]

Poverty and the True Artist

…Saturday evenings in Paris, when we took turns about the dinner, and the hours of good talk later in my little cluttered place in rue de la Grande Chaumière. You showed me sketches of your experiences – some of the material I recognised when Down and Out in Paris and London came out. Perhaps I […]

Cini & The Beast

In an effort to set the record straight about the boyhood of one of the twentieth century’s most significant writers, Jacintha Buddicom published Eric & Us, a recollection of her early life with Eric Blair, better known by his pseudonym, George Orwell. However, Orwell was not the only friend who gained iconic, popular cultural renown. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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