ORWELL PAL KING-FARLOW REMEMBERS
To Orwell Today,
Dear Jackie Jura,
I just discovered your website on George Orwell and its section referring to my maternal grandfather, Denys King-Farlow. See ORWELL'S ETON REPORT CARD & ORWELL ETON FRIEND KING-FARLOW
Just to put the record straight, I'd like to point out that Denys 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...)
Sir Sidney changed his name from King-Farlow to Nettleton because he was ashamed of his humble origins. Set on a late political career (which he failed at), he changed his name to free himself from any association with the owners of a shop (which still exists on Pall Mall, in London) called Farlows. They were cousins of his, and his change of name was to hide his family connection with "trade".
One of the possible reasons for Denys and George Orwell/Eric Blair having got on so well at Eton was probably because both of them had scholarships there, seeing as their families were unable to afford their fees.
Being scholars at Eton meant Denys and George were part of an elite that boarded and studied separately from the other students. It was no doubt this background -- being poorer but cleverer than the other boys -- which helped to bond the two.
Great to hear from the grandson of a friend of Orwell and thanks for adding to the discussion about Denys King-Farlow's name being changed to Nettleton while at Eton, and then back again to King-Farlow later in adult life.
Yes, no doubt their both being King's Scholars and part of the elite group of Collegers who actually lived at Eton -- not in the town -- helped bond their friendship. But I think it went beyond that because they had alot in common above being academically brainy, ie they were both writers for the school magazine and also hung out together in their spare time swimming and fishing at the river etc.
In the ORWELL TODAY article that you reference I quoted and excerpted several sources describing their friendship during and after Eton, and how your grandfather went to visit Orwell many times at Wallington and also at the tuberculosis sanitorium in the years before the war, after which they lost touch. I transcribed excerpts of their letters back and forth.
Now, after receiving your email I went looking for further sources on their relationship and found an essay written by your grandfather in the book ORWELL REMEMBERED edited by Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick in 1984. The essay includes excerpts of interviews your grandfather gave in 1960 and 1967 to Orwell's friend and BBC co-producer, Raynor Heppenstall and to Orwell researcher, Ian Angus who was working with Orwell's second wife, Sonia, editing The Complete Works.
I've scanned and excerpted a few passages below, which begin with your grandfather describing his first meeting with Orwell since Eton, when he visited him in Wallington shortly after his marriage to Eileen in June 1936. I visited Orwell -- in spirit -- there too, sixty-eight years later in 2004. See VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE & VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH
ETON DAYS WITH GEORGE ORWELL
by Denys King-Farlow, excerpts from pages 54-60
Denys King-Farlow (1903-82) entered Eton in the same year as Orwell in the College, the House for the scholars and scholarship boys. He was later an executive in various international oil companies....
...I left a decent interval to allow for his honeymoon and then I drove down one Sunday to the village, which I found a couple of miles off the main road from London to Cambridge and quite out of sight of the road, set in a rolling sort of agricultural country, very few trees about. THE STORES was a typical village shop and there was in the garden and on the verge by the roadside, room for a couple of goats and also for geese and chickens which he and his wife were rearing. He came out and croaked a warm welcome at me in that curious voice of his that I remember very well, rather bored and slightly apologetic. He'd shot up another couple of inches after he'd left school and gone out East. I should think he was about six foot four; he was burnt a deep brown and looked terribly weedy, with his loose, shabby corduroys and grey shirt....
I used to come down to see him on Sundays several times and I was very much interested in what he had to say about what was going on in Spain. There was a bit of a gap and then he dropped me a line one day, saying that he was going to do some journalism abroad, saying, 'I leave you to guess'. See SOLDIER ORWELL AT SPANISH FRONT & ORWELL BULLET THRU NECK
One day I was going down to Cambridge and I thought I'd call in -- oh months and months after, and look up and see if there was any news of Blair, see if perhaps he'd come back [from Spain]. And I found Eileen at THE STORES, entirely by luck. She'd come down for the day and was apparently packing up, the geese had been sold and the goats and the chickens gone to somebody else and she was really locking up the whole place. She told me that they'd both been out in Spain and that Blair had been wounded in the throat, in some engagement and had had a very bad time in hospital. He got away, I gather, with her help, with great luck, while still wounded, into France. Blair, was, she told me, in a sanatorium down in Kent, somewhere near Bearsted. She gave me the address, which was at the old Victorian stately home of Lord Bassie, a terrific place looking rather like St Pancras station. And there I went one day, with my wife, and with my father and mother who remembered Blair very well at school, when we'd been out together on various outings... See ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY
He seemed to be recovering rapidly and really in pretty good form. He'd always had a rather peculiar voice and now as a result of this trouble with his throat, he spoke very huskily and he wasn't allowed to raise his voice. He wrote to me once or twice from the sanatorium and then I had a line from Eileen in London, who told me that after having recovered apparently pretty thoroughly, he'd had a sudden relapse and was again in a sanatorium. I went down with my wife and looked him up. After that, I had some meetings with Eileen, but I didn't see Blair again until the outbreak of war. He came to see if I could help him get some work of national importance because he felt that with his background in Spain, having fought on the left side, he was rather a suspected person. He'd been refused for the Army and for any sort of service. We all went home and had some drinks together and soon after that, I'm glad to say, I got my call-up and went to France. I got out of France in June after the French had declared an Armistice. He turned up the day that I returned to London. We had some very amusing times together. I did meet him once afterwards at the Westminister Theatre when on leave, but that was about the end of my friendship with Blair. After the war, I had hoped to see a lot of him, but like a lot of those things, that didn't come about.
~ end quoting Denys King-Farlow in Orwell Remembered ~
You mention that your grandfather's family still has "a shop" called FARLOWS on Pall Mall in London. Calling it "a shop" is a classic understatement, FARLOWS being a landmark historical business on one of the most prestigious streets of London.
No doubt Orwell would have shopped at FARLOWS for his fishing and other sporting equipment -- he having lived nearby in Greenwich and in Hampstead.
In closing, thank you double-plus much for explaining why Orwell's friend -- your grandfather, Denys King-Farlow -- changed his name to Nettleton while at Eton.
All the best,
To Orwell Today,
Thank you for your kind reply to my comments and your extra material on my grandfather. It was really very sweet of you!
ORWELL PAL KING-FARLOW REMEMBERS
ORWELL ETON FRIEND KING-FARLOW (name was Nettleton on Eton College List)
ORWELL TODAY ETON POEM GENUINE (reader Richard had poem verified by Orwell scholar and auther Peter Davison)
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
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