ORWELL'S WIFE NAMED "1984"
To Orwell Today,
How would I find a copy of Eileen Blair's "End of the Century, 1984", complete and unabridged? Anywhere on the net?
Thank you very much,
Valerie Fannin, Texas
I assume you saw the excerpt of Eileen's END OF THE CENTURY, 1984 poem in the HOW ORWELL NAMED "1984" article which I recently directed a reader to in the ORWELL LAST MAN IN EUROPE article. I also mention Eileen's poem in the Aldous Huxley, BRAVE NEW WORLD section of the website, and discuss other cryptic references to Eileen in "1984":
ORWELL'S WIFE'S BRAVE NEW WORLD POEM: Orwell's wife Eileen had died on March 29th, 1945, a month after Orwell had left for Europe as war correspondent for the Observer newspaper. The last word in the unfinished letter she'd been writing him before she died was "clock" which is found in the first sentence of "1984". In her previous letter she had described to him her hatred of London and her wish that he would stop wasting his energy on journalism and move to the country where they could raise their child and he could write what she believed would be a masterpiece. Her funeral was on April 3rd and in "1984" Winston starts his diary on "April 4th". Also, Orwell may have been honouring Eileen when he named "1984" because she had written a futuristic poem in 1934 entitled END OF THE CENTURY, 1984, which was based on her recent reading of Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD. In her poem she describes the future fifty years down the road when:
'Shakespeare's bones are quiet at last,
...No book disturbs the lucid line,
For sun-bronzed scholars tune their thought
To telepathic Station 9
From where they know just what they ought,
...mental cremation that should banish
Relics, philosophies and colds'
I first put the excerpt of Eileen's END OF THE CENTURY, 1984 poem on the website after discovering it in the biography "Inside George Orwell", by Gordon Bowker (page 382). I've never seen the poem in its entirety.
The more I think about it, the more I now believe that Orwell chose the name "1984" in remembrance of Eileen and that symbolically it was his way of honouring her role in its creation.
All the best,
77 PARLIAMENT HILL (....It was his landlady on Parliament Hill who introduced 32-year-old Orwell to his first wife, Eileen in the spring of 1935....One of these guests was a slender woman with broad shoulders and dark brown hair. She was nearly thirty and was a graduate student working on a Master's degree in educational psychology. Her name was Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy, and Orwell was attracted to her from the moment she walked into the room. They spent much of the evening talking, and at the end of the party he walked her to the bus stop. When he came back to the flat, he went to Rosalind's room and announced to her that Eileen was 'the sort of girl I'd like to marry'."...She came from a proud Irish family who had come to England in the early nineteenth century and had settled on the Tyneside. The daughter of a Collector of Customs, she was born on 25 September 1905 in South Shields. There was only one other child in the family, her older brother Laurence, and she was devoted to him....The fact that Eileen's brother was one of Britain's leading experts on tuberculosis was of no small interest to Orwell, and in the future Dr. O'Shaughnessy had in important part to play in Orwell's life."....He took her out to dinner not long after the party at Rosalind's flat, and, as Eileen later reported to her friend Lydia Jackson, he proposed to her. Lydia was stunned: 'What! already?...What are you going to do about it?' To which, Eileen responded, 'I don't know...You see, I told myself that when I was thirty, I would accept the first man who asked me to marry him.' Eileen would turn thirty in September, so time was running out...."It was this slightly mischievous sense of humour which attracted Orwell to her in the first place. She could appreciate his dry wit, and she was capable of matching it with her own quips. She was not intimidated by him, and she was not the kind of woman whom he could easily shock with his unconventional remarks. She was also one of the most intelligent women he would ever meet, and he was well aware of it. Having read widely in English literature, she could hold her own with him in discussions about poetry or fiction. And as her surviving letters show, she was an excellent writer, with a strong sense of style. Her friends thought that Orwell's marriage to Eileen was, among other things, beneficial to his writing. They believed that she was a perceptive critic and influenced the development of his style by reading his works while he was in the process of writing them, and giving him her honest opinions...During the summer of 1935 Orwell and Eileen spent many weekends together, staying in Greenwich or making excursions into the countryside. He repeated his proposal, but she put him off for the time being, explaining that she did not want to marry until she had completed all the work for her degree. Orwell could not promise her an easy life if she accepted him; he did not have much money, and his literary prospects were uncertain. But he felt certain that Eileen was the right woman to be his wife, and wanted to marry her as soon as the time was right for both of them. He was so serious about marrying her that he wanted them to become formally engaged, but even that had to wait for a little longer. 'You are right about Eileen,' he wrote to Raynor Heppenstall during this period. 'She is the nicest person I have met for a long time. However, at present, alas! I can't afford a ring, except perhaps a Woolworth's one.'"...)
VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH (married Eileen on June 9th, 1936 which was almost exactly 13 years before "1984" was published on June 8, 1949)
VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE & Orwell's Life In Wallington
excerpt from INSIDE GEORGE ORWELL, by Gordon Bowher, page 210:
...The Road to Wigan Pier was finally published on 7 March, 1937....With the book's future settled, Eileen set out for Barcelona. McNair had advertised for a secretary in the New Leader and she was taken on. She left Aunt Nellie in charge of the store. She took along the things she knew George missed most - Typhoo tea, chocolates and some cigars as well as the tobacco he liked. Charles Orr, at the ILP [Independent Labour Party) office editing the English edition of the POUM paper, The Spanish Revolution, for whom she also worked, found the Blairs an impressive if incongruous couple. 'Eileen was a round-faced Irish girl, prim and pretty, with black hair and dark eyes. Eric was tall, lean and gangling, to the point of being awkward . . . He was tongue-tied, stammered and seemed to be afraid of people. Eileen was friendly, gregarious and unpretentious.' Among those working for the POUM her superiority was evident. 'She just could not resist talking about Eric - her hero husband, whom she obviously loved and admired . . . He was still just an unknown writer . . . but . . . as I came to know Eric better - through Eileen - my respect grew . . . A man who could win a woman of such quality must have some value.' Jack Branthwaite also saw George and Eileen as soul-mates: 'She worshippped the ground he walked on. She'd do anything for him. Anything Eric did, he was the greatest.' And Paddy Donovan remembered how she had caught certain of his mannerisms and habits - including smoking the same unsavoury black tobacco...
ORWELL'S WIFE'S GRAVE (reader Stephen visits on You Tube)
JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA: (...Leaving Scotland and heading back to my husband's relatives between Durham and Newcastle, we stopped at Hadrian's Wall. The next day, our final day up north, we all went to South Shields for a picnic, and took this photo there:
Orwell's wife Eileen was born and raised in South Shields. The following adaptation is sung to the tune of Roger Whittaker's "Durham Town":
....When Eileen was a girl, she spent her time,
Sitting on the banks of the river Tyne.
Watching all the ships going down the line, they were leaving,
Leaving, leaving, leaving, leaving, leaving.
I've gotta leave old Jura town,
I've gotta leave old Jura town.
I've gotta leave old Jura town,
And that leaving's gonna get me down...
After visiting South Shields we drove to Newcastle for shopping. Eileen is buried in Newcastle and several times on his journeys to and from Jura Orwell stopped there to visit Eileen's grave.
As we passed the "Angel of The North" I snapped a photo in rememberance of Eileen for Orwell.
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