ORWELL ETON FRIEND KING-FARLOW
To Orwell Today,
Dear Ms Jura,
I read with interest your work on ORWELL'S ETON REPORT CARD and I thought that you would like to have the answer to your question as to why you could not find King-Farlow anywhere on the 1921 College List.
The reason is that he appears on the list (as part of the 1916 Election) under the name of Nettleton, which was the name taken by his father in 1919. In other words, he commenced Eton under the name King-Farlow but changed his name three years later. He actually reverted back to King-Farlow in 1935 and I enclose a copy of an extract from the London Gazette giving all the details.
You mention on your site that you may not have the complete list, which is correct, as the last few lines of the page are missing. I have also sent you the list again this time in its complete version.
I thank you for your very fresh and enjoyable site and I wish you much success with your continuing research.
Wow, thanks a million for sending those amazing puzzle pieces filling in some blanks about Orwell's days at Eton -- a period so much brought to life by the early biographies where friends of his were interviewed -- among them Denys King-Farlow who was one of his closest friends at Eton. That's why I was a bit confused when King-Farlow's name didn't appear on the Eton Report card that Orwell's headmaster's grandson sent a couple years ago.
So now with you saying that King-Farlow had changed his name to Nettleton that totally clears up that confusion.
The knowledge I had of King-Farlow was mainly from reading the 1972 biography THE UNKNOWN ORWELL by Stansky & Abrahams which had many anecdotes about their days together at Eton (and the cover depicts Orwell sitting on the exact same step I stood on 84 years later).
King-Farlow and Orwell both started Eton as latecomers -- in May 1917 -- after attending two terms at Winchester and Wellington respectively, which Orwell famously quipped was "perfectly bloody". He and King-Farlow were two of the main creators and publishers of the Eton magazines I went looking for when I visited Eton. King-Farlow, like Orwell, was a "wet bob", ie they loved swimming in river Thames opposite Windsor Castle as opposed to being "dry bobs" who played cricket. During the war years at Eton they were in the Officer Training Corps together too -- and shared a tent when out on maneouvers. King-Farlow said that when they first met at Eton, in 1917, Orwell was shorter than him -- ie 5'4" to his 5'8" but by 1921, their final year, Orwell had shot up to over 6' and put on weight proportionately -- enough to make him a player on the Collegers' Wall Game team -- whereas King-Farlow had stopped growing at 5'9".
The first two pics above probably include King-Farlow but I don't know how to recognize him -- but Orwell is highlighted. In the third photo Orwell -- top left -- is in uniform in front of the infamous "wall" of the Eton-invented Wall Game that goes back centuries.
Also, at Eton, Orwell and King-Farlow were anti-totalitarian revolutionaries, inspiring their whole Election -- those who entered Eton in 1916 -- to fight against flogging of younger boys and when they were in position of power -- in graduation year -- they didn't flog. Orwell didn't usually like the wealthy students at Eton -- most everyone there came from the upper-class -- not lower upper-middle class like Orwell -- but he and King-Farlow got along in spite of the difference -- ie King-Farlow's father was a wealthy industrialist* -- Orwell's was a retired civil-servant on a pension.
After Eton Orwell didn't keep up friendships with any of his Eton friends, they having chosen traditional paths like Oxford or Cambridge University and then becoming doctors, lawyers, bankers, business executives etc etc -- whereas Orwell had joined the Civil Service and quit after five years to become a down and out writer.
His Etonian friends didn't know he'd changed his name from Eric Blair to George Orwell but after his books under that name started getting literary reviews everyone learned who he was and where he was living. Old friends started writing him and wanting to drop by and visit -- one of whom was King-Farlow. His letter arrived on Orwell's wedding day -- June 9th, 1936 -- and in his letter back to King-Farlow that very same day Orwell had invited him to come for a visit.
Now, upon re-reading Orwell's letter to King-Farlow -- after receiving your email saying he'd changed his name to Nettleton -- I see that Orwell actually mentions it in his letter -- in the very first sentence -- saying that he remembers him changing his name to Nettleton and asks if he's changed it back to King-Farlow. So no doubt about it, you're right when you say Nettleton is King-Farlow -- Orwell's letter backs you up 100%.
Below from Orwell's COLLECTED ESSAYS, JOURNALISM & LETTERS, VOLUME ONE I've scanned the letter Orwell wrote to King-Farlow and also a letter to Connolly -- a mutual friend of theirs at Eton (and Orwell's best friend from prep-school at St Cyprian's about which I've written recently) -- describing his recent visit from King-Farlow. Also I've scanned excerpts from ORWELL THE TRANSFORMATION, the second book by Stansky & Abrahams, where they describe King-Farlow's visit to Orwell at Wallington which helped me visualize Orwell there during my own visit to Orwell's house in Wallington and the church where he was married.
The letter Orwell wrote to King-Farlow is dated June 9, 1936 -- his wedding day -- and the letter he writes to Connolly, mentioning his visit from King-Farlow, is dated March 14, 1938. It being almost two years between letters it must mean that King-Farlow visited Orwell at Wallington more than once. In the 1938 letter to Connolly Orwell is writing from bed and talking about "spitting up blood" and having to go to a Sanitorium in Kent for X-rays and then afterwards he would be visiting King-Farlow in London.
In King-Farlow's reminiscences of his visit to Orwell at Wallington he says Orwell met him at the gate looking weather-worn from gardening in the sun and was blissfully happy in married-life earning a living writing, raising chickens and running the country store.
Speaking of godcidents from readers -- your email included -- another reader wrote in one time about being the son of the doctor who took the X-rays of Orwell at that hospital Orwell was talking about to Connolly, ie the Preston Hall Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Ayelsford, Kent where Orwell's wife's brother was the head doctor. Amazing how all these puzzle pieces come together from where they've been scattered all over the world.
It would be very interesting to hear how it is you happen to have a copy of the full version of Orwell's Eton Report card -- and the newspaper entry about King-Farlow's name change from Nettleton.
Once again, thanks a million for your valued contribution to ORWELL TODAY.
All the best,
PS - In re-reading excerpts about Orwell and King-Farlow in THE UNKNOWN ORWELL I came across mention of the Eton expression "Take a Georgie" which meant writing out four to five hundred lines of Latin verse as punishment for certain infractions -- a punishment handed out to Orwell on more than one occasion.
It occurs to me that "take a Georgie" (that Eton pseudonym for punishment) may be why Eric chose "George" as his pseudonym.
To Orwell Today,
Thanks for your message, I will read your site update carefully and get back to you...
Just one thing I noticed, the punishment of lines that you refer to is a "Georgic", not a "Georgie"! See Georgics at Wikipedia for details.
Writing out one of Virgil's Georgics was a "classic" punishment in every sense!!
*ORWELL PAL KING-FARLOW REMEMBERS (...Just to put the record straight, I'd like to point out that my grandfather, Denys King-Farlow was certainly not upper class and his father, Sir Sidney, was not an industrialist but a judge. The family, at best, was upper-middle class, (and today, merely middle class...)
ORWELL WALKS WILLINGDON DOWNS
ORWELL BROTHER-IN-LAW DIED AT DUNKIRK
PRESTON HALL ORWELL ANIMAL FARM
ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY
ORWELL TODAY ETON POEM GENUINE
ORWELL'S ETON REPORT CARD
WHO CAN SPOT ORWELL AT ETON?
ORWELL ETON POEM DISCOVERED
ETON COLLEGERS REMEMBER ORWELL
ORWELL'S PUNISHING SCHOOL DAYS
ORWELL & HARRY AT ETON
THE LION AND THE LAMB
ORWELL GREATEST ETONIAN OF ALL
ORWELL TRULY A GLOBAL FIGURE
WHO'S THE GREATEST OLD ETONIAN?
LOOKING FOR ORWELL AT ETON
VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH
VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE
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