To Orwell Today,
re: ORWELL'S INEZ SPOKE NEWSPEAK
Dear Ms Jura,
I found your interesting site when searching for information on Inez Holden after coming across her name both in Anthony Powell's memoirs and George Orwell's letters; I had no real clue as to her identity or output, but your site was very informative. I set about investigating further, as nothing seemed to give many details as to her identity save that her cousins were Celia (later Goodman) and Mamaine (later Koestler) Paget.
As a result of my research I hope to offer some clarification regarding the year of Holden's birth - as you and a previous reader discussed.
I see that the consensus appears to be that she was born in 1906. In fact, census records (available here: www.findmypast.co.uk) revealed that Beatrice Inez Lisette Holden (searching under this name on Amazon brings up the same books credited to Inez Holden; they are one and the same) was born in 1904 at Wellesbourne, Warwickshire to Wilfred Millington Holden and Beatrice Mary Byng Paget according to the 1911 census. She also had a brother - Wilfred Herbert - born 1902. Her mother's surname - Paget - also clarifies Holden's relationship to Celia and Mamaine, who appear as her 'cousins' in the books I mentioned above, without specifying the precise link; their mother Georgina Byng Paget was Beatrice Mary's sister, four years her senior. If you are interested in taking a look for yourself, I could easily send you images of these records via e-mail.
However, muddying the waters further is this, from the book 'George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics', the epilogue of which deals specifically and at length with Inez Holden: "Holden's neglect by today's readers and scholars is not nearly as astonishing as that of her parents, who reportedly failed to register her birth... Library records list her birth year as 1906, while Anthony Powell claimed in his obituary tribute in the London Magazine that she was born 21st November 1903. Holden's family tree, kept in her private papers, ends with the names 'Wilfred Herbert Holden, born 1902' and 'Elisabet Inez Holden 1904?- 1974'. Celia Goodman, Holden's cousin, has recorded that Holden was born in 1903 and Orwell's biographer Bernard Crick lists her birth year as 1904." Since the census was taken in April 1911, and upon being asked her age the answer would be 'seven', leading the census taker to assume that she had been born in 1904 as opposed to late 1903. Since Powell was a personal friend of Holden's and the date correlates with Celia Goodman's claim of 1903 (the cousins were very close and Celia cared for Holden on her deathbed) it's likely the 21st November 1903 was her date of birth. As the 'Elisabet' is not corroborated by any other source, it must be assumed to have been erroneously recorded.
Holden's death in 1974 was recorded under 'Inez Beatrice P(aget) Holden' rather than her birth name, reflecting her use of Inez in public and private life.
I have added to her Wikipedia page accordingly, as it was previously fairly limited in content. I can only assume that W. J. West perfectly acceptably erred with his claim of 1906 given the lack of definite information, certainly in 1985 when he produced his work.
I'm sorry this e-mail ended up so long, but I discovered things as I typed it!
Thanks again for your hard work on the site.
Thanks for setting the record straight on Inez Holden being born on November 21st 1903 and NOT 1904 or 1906. That makes her just five months younger than Orwell who was also born in 1903 - on June 25th.
All the best,
To Orwell Today,
Thank you for the update. I've tried to find out more about Inez Holden, but haven't had much luck online. I think buying some more Orwell biographies might shed some light, though, so that's definitely on the cards for the future; I'm also intending to pick up copies of Ms Holden's own works, which might be informative if there's any kind of mini-biography included in the front pages. If I do find anything else out I'll be sure to pass it along to you.
Greetings again Graham,
It's a good idea to read all the Orwell biographies (they're so interesting) and anecdotes of Inez Holden can usually be found in each of them.
For example, here's a passage from ORWELL: WINTRY CONSCIENCE OF A GENERATION, by Jeffrey Meyers (please disregard the margin notes I've made all over the place):
"...Three weeks later their flat was bombed, though no one was hurt and they managed to rescue their possessions. Since Inez Holden was living in the country, they moved into her pleasant flat near Baker Street. Her journal for July 1944 described a rather sad Orwellian scene: "He had been planning to get his books up from the country [Wallington] for some time. At last he managed it, but now his house has been broken up by the blast. The place is no longer habitable, but he goes each day to rummage in the rubble to recover as many books as possible and wheel them away in a wheel-barrow. He makes the journey from Fleet Street during his lunch hour." Inez probably exaggerated. The Tribune offices were on the Strand, not Fleet Street, and it is almost four miles each way to Mortimer Crescent...."
I used other excerpts about Inez Holden in a recent article to do with Orwell's wife Eileen. See END OF CENTURY, 1984.
All the best,
Reader Jack is trying to verify the birth and dates (or at least years) of Inez Holden
ORWELL'S INEZ SPOKE NEWSPEAK (...Reader Naomi says Inez is spanish for Agnes...)
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