Reader Orwell Letchworth

To Orwell Today,

Dear "Jackie Jura",

Thank you for sharing so much information in "Orwell Today"!

I am in a tiny group that has just formed in Letchworth to arrange a celebration in 2011 of Eric Blair's life, his thinking and writing. This is to bring out his relevance today and for the future.

As you know, Blair/Orwell lived briefly in Wallington near here; I may be able to compare conditions before the 1950s there and in Barnhill on Jura, which island I'll be visiting early next month.

We will be inviting Orwell specialists and I have taken on the task of seeking out potential speaker(s). I have done my homework, so to speak, in identifying his biographers, commentators etc. Are you personally up-to date with such contacts? If so can you please advise me whom to approach?

Best wishes in any case,
John Webb

Greetings John,

Great to hear from someone in Letchworth - the town where Orwell saw "fruit-juice drinking, nudist, sandal-wearing, sex-maniac, 'Nature Cure' quacks, pacifists, feminists and fuzzy-haired Marxists" on the Letchworth bus when he was writing THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER in 1936. They were in Letchworth attending the annual Independent Labour Party (ILP) conference.

I passed through Letchworth on the way to VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE in the summer of 2004.

It's great you're planning a celebration of Eric Blair's life next year in Letchworth - a fitting tribute to native son George Orwell.

Orwell actually lived in nearby Wallington for quite awhile - off and on from 1936 until 1940 when he moved to London during the war years - and he and Eileen went home as often as they could - up until her death in 1945. After that he never lived in Wallington again and eventually gave up the lease - and then he moved to Jura.

Please keep me up-to-date on the progress of your Eric Blair celebration so that as many ORWELL TODAY readers as possible can plan to go to Letchworth.

Also, it would be wonderful if you'd share photos and experiences from your upcoming visit to Jura and Barnhill. I often think about my JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA & VISITING ORWELL'S BARNHILL

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Letchworth literary festival organisers ‘thrilled’ with Orwell Prize backing, CometNews, Sep 1, 2012
Organizers of a festival which celebrates one of Britain’s most renowned authors are “thrilled” after gaining the support of a prestigious literary competition. The second George Orwell Festival takes place next month in Letchworth GC and will this year feature a panel from the Orwell Prize, which awards those who comes closest to reflecting the author’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Hundreds of people attended the 10-day inaugural event which paid homage to Orwell – behind best-selling novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm – and culminated in the village of Wallington, where the political journalist lived between 1936-47. This year’s festival runs from September 20 to 23 and features a panel of speakers at the Spirella Building who will consider the question of ‘Poverty Then and Now: Orwell and his Successors’ on the opening night. Other events scheduled for the 2012 programme include poetry readings, walks, and themed talks. “The next full George Orwell Festival is scheduled for October 2013, but in the meantime we wanted to keep the festival flag flying this year by putting together a shorter, four-day celebration,” said festival committee chairman Richard Hallmark. “We are thrilled to welcome the Orwell Prize to the proceedings. Its support lends special resonance to the endeavour.”...

...Reader Marty sends news of a George Orwell weekend in aid of the church in Wallington where Orwell was married

Jackie Jura
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