To Orwell Today,
Dear Ms Jura,
I am writing on behalf of the George Orwell Memorial Committee of Motihari, Bihar, India.
As you know Orwell was born in Motihari and the house where he was born still exists albeit in a very poor state. We have formed the Memorial Committee to:
a) restore the house,
b) to start a museum on Orwell in that house and
c) to make the local people aware of Orwell's achievements.
For this purpose we would like to collect material --- old photographs, copies of letters of his parents etc., pertaining to the period of their stay in Motihari and elsewhere in India. May I request you to help us in this matter? We shall be very thankful.
With best regards,
Greetings Mr. Banerjee,
Thanks a million for your Committee's committment toward fulfilling the dream of an Orwell memorial in Motihari.
So far, as we know, there's been a plaque erected in front of the birth house (January 2005) and now a statue (January 2010).
That's proof positive that the project has moved beyond the planning stage and into the reality stage.
Now the museum itself is getting closer to the bricks and mortar stage and conceivably will soon need Orwell memorabilia to fill it.
I'm sharing your request for help in gathering India-related material with ORWELL TODAY readers. I'm confident that through the wonder of the world-wide-web word will get out and contributions will be forthcoming.
Perhaps The George Orwell Archive at the University College of London will be able to advise on the existence and feasability of obtaining copies of some of their memorabilia pertaining to that period.
And then, as the project gets nearer completion, no doubt myself and other Orwell fans will make donations of things we have, for example books toward building a library of his works for Motihari residents.
Personally, I have a souvenir of the time I went to the hospital in London where Orwell died.
It's a note written by a University College Hospital receptionist giving the name and number of who to call to request permission to see the very room - 65 - where Orwell spent the last four-and-a-half months of his life, dying there on January 21, 1950. It may not be something of interest to the museum in Motihari, but I have it pinned on the bulletin board in my office as a tangible piece of something close to Orwell (and I also have red rose petals from his grave).
In any event, when ideas and help come in from readers, I'll direct them to contact you.
All the best,
PS - In the book "George Orwell A Life" by Bernard Crick there is a photo of baby Orwell at six weeks old with his Motihari nanny or nurse (scanned above). There is also, in addition to the photo of baby Orwell and his mother, a photo of a portrait of Orwell's mother (Ida Blair) taken in Lucknow:
ORWELL STATUE IN MOTIHARI
VISITING ORWELL'S BIRTH PLACE
SHRINE TO ORWELL
VISITING ORWELL'S GRAVE
SONIA'S FLAT & ORWELL'S HOSPITAL (...On 3 September, 1949 he moved from the Cranham sanatorium near Gloucester, in the Cotswold hills, into his last bed at University College Hospital in Gower Street, London. He had a private room for which he paid just over 17 pounds a week...)
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