Remembering George Orwell
1903, June 25. - 1950, January 21.

GEORGE ORWELL AT HOME - (and among the Anarchists)  

By Joe Toscane
the Anarchist Age Weekly Review
No 349, 10-16 May, 1999, Melbourne.

"If I had understood the situation a bit better I should probably have joined the anarchists". (Extract letter, October 1937 written by George Orwell to his friend Jack Common).
"Spanish anarchism shaded off into Utopianism at one end and sheer banditry at the other". (Observer 10th Nov 1946).
George Orwell (nee Eric Blair) is best known for his seminal works, Animal Farm and 1984. It's impossible to read these works and not come away with the impression that Orwell was familiar with anarchist ideas and views.
Anybody who is familiar with Orwell's work and has read Homage to Catalonia will know that Orwell was not only familiar with anarchist ideas, he saw anarchists in action and witnessed the Spanish anarchists attempts to make their ideas a reality when he was fighting in Spain in 1937.
Interestingly the first edition of 1500 copies of Homage to Catalonia still hadn't sold out when he died 12 years later in 1949.
George Orwell at Home is a beautifully produced 78 page book that is basically a photographic essay of George Orwell at Home. Throughout WWII he kept in contact with Vernon Richards and Marie Louise Berneri, two leading anarchist activists in London. Just after the war Vernon Richards and Louise Berneri took the photographs of George Orwell at Home that make up the photographic component of this mini coffee table book.
The photographs show George Orwell in his rented third storey flat with his three year old adopted son, Eric Blair. Orwell married Eileen O'shaughnessy in June 1936, they adopted Eric in 1944, tragically she died in 1945 after a routine operation. George Orwell, although sick himself, continued to look after his adopted son, Eric, after her sudden death. The photographs in the book concentrate both on Eric and George and how they interacted.
The difference between this coffee table book and most other coffee table books is that this book has something to say. In three separate articles Vernon Richards, Colin Ward and Nicholas Walter examine George Orwell's understanding, support and commitment to anarchist ideas. Although in the later part of his relatively short life (he died in 1949 at the age of 46) he was openly hostile to anarchist ideas and although he never considered he was an anarchist, reading Richards, Ward's and Walter's essays on George Orwell, it's obvious his life and work was influenced by the anarchists.

GEORGE ORWELL AT HOME - (and among the Anarchists)
Essays and Photographs
Vernon Richards, Colin Ward, Nicolas Walter
Freedom Press 1998
ISBN 0900-384-948

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