PRESTON HALL ORWELL ANIMAL FARM
To Orwell Today,
re: ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY
I thank you very much for your very detailed and scholarly reply. However I am less than impressed with my original e-mail which contained several typographical errors and was missing some important facts. For your information I was born in 1950 and am relying on anecdotal evidence from my father as well as knowledge of Preston Hall where I once lived.
I believe my father ended up looking after Eric's dog Marx because Eric was told he could not have his typewriter with him but could have his dog to take for long relaxing walks. My father provided a domicile at the top of the Hall grounds.
The Preston Estate was about 250 acres and about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide. There was a large Limestone Quarry at the south end of the estate and barely half a mile from the Hall and Farm. The quarry was in operation until the 1970s and was gouged out of the side of a hill, making it entirely possible for the animals to hoist the Limestone to the top of the hill as described in Animal Farm.
Preston Manor Farm was at the North and West end of the estate and consisted of buildings, and Crop/Animal husbandry also as described in the book. It was overlooked by a grassy knoll on which the Hall was situated, and incorporated an Orchard, Lake and rolling meadows also as described.
However I think the best evidence of Eric's involvement in the farm comes from his August 1938 diary entries which provides documentary evidence of his involvement in the farm which I believe reinforces the view that this was the model for Animal Farm.
PPS - FURTHER TO MY E-MAIL OF THIS MORNING
There is a lot more I can tell you about the Preston Estate/Manor Farm/Quarry but unlike you I do not enjoy writing long e-mails.
If you are interested or wish to ask questions I would be more than happy to ring you on a specific landline or cellphone line, on a range of dates and times. I have the impression you are living in Canada?
With regard to Eric's diary there is a specific entry on about 20th August 1938 where Eric mentions calculating the size and cubic capacity of two large Haystacks on the farm. This shows the level of his involvement in the farm complex to which he would have had access at Preston Hall.
I don't understand why his biographers failed to identify there was a Farm and Limestone Quarry within the grounds of Preston Hall.
Greetings again Tim,
I wonder why you didn't send this info about Preston Hall hospital - stating your case that it's Orwell's inspiration for Manor Farm in ANIMAL FARM - in your first email? With what you'd first told me, how was I to know it had a limestone quarry nearby?
Nor had you told me specific details about your father's role as babysitter for Marx - or that Orwell had taken him for walks on the grounds - something I groped around and discovered myself. You'd originally said that no dogs were allowed in the hospital or on the grounds.
You quote excerpts from Orwell's diary as though you assume I've read it but in fact I haven't, nor have I been reading it on-line, except only occasionally.
Perhaps you could quote chapter and verse for any other entries you mention.
Anyway, thanks for enlightening us all about aspects of Orwell's life at Preston Hall, and about Preston Hall itself. No doubt - as I stated in our previous email - Preston Hall and its environs did partially inspire Orwell's descriptions of Manor Farm in ANIMAL FARM. But Preston Hall was not the be-all and end-all model, as you seem to be implying. All of Orwell's books are partially biographical and he draws from real places and real people - not usually recognizable to people who haven't read about him or personally knew him. That's half the fun of reading all about Orwell - this discovery of symbolic references all throughout his writing.
You say you're not a writer of long emails - and perhaps you also mean you're not a reader of long emails either. However, this website isn't directed at people with 140-character Twitter reading spans - otherwise known as "tweets" (or twits reading tweets). People who come to ORWELL TODAY can expect to find some heavy-lifting reading. But then, people who enjoy reading what Orwell wrote - his books, essays, biographies about him etc - I assume are used to reading and take the time to read.
All the best,
PS - I'm amazed you blame me for your typographical errors and also for omitting important facts from your original email when you had not mentioned those omitted facts in the first place. Am I expected to be a mind reader of your thoughts and knowledgeable about the facts you subsequently provided? I really don't understand your animosity. If you have something further to share about Orwell, no doubt ORWELL TODAY readers would be interested in hearing it - but no need to try and lord it over in your attitude. At first I put it down to maybe you were grumpy because you're old (if you'd been around when Orwell was there) - but born in 1950 you're the same age as me, and I'm not old and grumpy - and anyway old age isn't an excuse.
...conversation continues (Tim sends references to Orwell's Diary)
UPDATE: Reader Jane is researching Orwell's connection to Preston Hall as inspiration for "Animal Farm"
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