To Orwell Today,
re: Looking for book "Remembering Orwell"
You kindly helped with my search for "Remembering Orwell" by Stephen Wadhams, the Canadian broadcaster, by advertising my plight on the "Orwell Today" website.
Glad to say that I have finally got hold of a copy. It was the one major biographical work missing from my collection. It turned up at Clarendon Books in Norwich, England, which I found via the Abebooks website. Wasn't too expensive either - less than six pounds. I had been undertaking a twice-weekly internet search for at least eighteen months - why is this book so elusive?
I have written separately to Julian Evans at the High Commission in Ottawa.
Thank you very much for letting me know you've found a copy of "Remembering Orwell" as it isn't often that I get follow-up from readers. You certainly deserved to find it after eighteen months of twice-weekly internet searching. I bet it's happy to be on your shelf, adopted as it is by someone who truly wanted it, and surrounded by others of its Orwell family.
I wonder if you have, in your collection, "Orwell Remembered" by Coppard & Crick, which is ALSO a compilation of people's reminiscences. I discuss it in an email to a reader who was looking for anecdotes to develop a theatre production on Orwell.
One of the stories in "Orwell Remembered" contains the remembrance of Paul Potts entitled "Quixote on a Bicycle" which is a chapter excerpted from his book "Dante Called You Beatrice" which I had searched for but never found. Paul Potts was a poverty-stricken Canadian poet who was a good friend of Orwell, having been invited to visit him on Jura (where he chopped down the only nut tree for firewood and was kicked out by Orwell's sister) and who was the last friend to see Orwell alive (stopped by his hospital room but he was sleeping so left a tea bag at the door).
An anecdote I've always been reluctant to share with readers (thinking they'd think I was 'seeing things') is that when I was leaving the village of Orwell, en route to the motel we'd been directed to, we passed a tall, gangly, dark-haired man weavingly riding a bicycle and I commented to my husband that the man was Orwell personified (thinking of "Quixote on a Bicycle" by Potts). I wish I'd grabbed my camera and taken a photo but my husband didn't slow down and the chance was lost.
Prompted by your email today, I've gone to my Orwell shelf and pulled out "Remembering Orwell" and "Orwell Remembered" to compare their entries but there are no duplicates. That got me re-reading and reading some of the stories for the first time and I will be writing an article soon on something new I discovered.
All the best,
PS - I love the Alibris and Abe Books websites as they are almost genie-like in their "your wish is our command" response to books I've requested
PPS - I imagine the reason "Remembering Orwell" is so illusive is because they aren't printing them anymore and probably haven't since it came out in 1984. The copy I have is a first, and maybe ONLY edition (softcover). And maybe people who do have a copy don't want to part with it, and they only become available when someone leaves this world and their descendents include them in estate sales or donate them to second-hand bookstores or treasure shops like Mr Charrington's
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