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"Eileen O'Shaughnessy's influence on her husband, George Orwell,
has been unjustly swept under the carpet"

...cont'd from discussion on DJ Taylor Orwell bio

To Orwell Today,

Good Afternoon Jackie. Thanks so much for your message. How are things going?

Wifedom by Funder I recently read -- very disappointing in my humble opinion. Have you perhaps read it?

Michael, February 2024

Greetings Michael,

No, I haven't read WIFEDOM and don't intend to. But I have read reviews, watched Funder being interviewed and listened to passages from the book which was boring as hell.

To quote a review:

"The book paints a grim picture of Orwell,
suggesting he was 'sadistic', 'misogynistic', homophobic', and 'sometimes violent'.
It further intimates an affair between Orwell and...."

In my opinion, Funder is a personification of the goodthinkful feminists Orwell described in 1984:

"Winston disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones.
It was always the women who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party,
the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy."

And using Orwell's words again (substituting my words in italics), here's what the author of WIFEDOM is attempting to do:

Funder "was trying to kill Orwell's character and reputation,
or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty it."

Another example from 1984 of what Orwell would think of WIFEDOM is:

"The Ministry of Truth had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the Party,
but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the Proletariat.
There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with
proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally.
Here were produced rubbishy newspapers, containing almost nothing except sport, crime, and astrology,
sensational five-cent novelettes and films oozing with sex.
The rubbishy entertainment and spurious news which the Party handed out to the masses
was referred to as 'prolefeed'."

Assuming to speak for Orwell again, I think he'd be feeling betrayed by his son, Richard, who's been playing along with some of the denigration of his father over the years - for example that Eileen had sex with his commander, Georges Kopp, in Barcelona, while Orwell was fighting at the front. Most recently it's promoting WIFEDOM on his ORWELL SOCIETY website. That was in May 2023 three months before the book came out.




Then just last week, again on the ORWELL SOCIETY website, there's a link to a scathing, yet glowing, 11-page review of WIFEDOM -- in one of the most prestigious periodicals in literary circles:

Wifedom: Mrs Orwell's Invisible Life, by Anna Funder
by Martin Tyrrell, Dublin Review of Books, February 2024


"Eileen O'Shaughnessy married George Orwell in 1936 and remained married to him until her unexpected and untimely death in 1945. Anna Funder's Wifedom is primarily an analysis of that nine-year marriage, which Funder concludes as having been throughout to Eileen's disadvantage, an 'arms race to mutual self-destruction: she by selflessness, and he by disappearing into the greedy double life that is the artist's, of self + work'. The Orwell that emerges from this account was variously exploitative, neglectful, hypocritical and adulterous, not to mention a tepid and unremarkable lover and, who knows, a tortured and in-denial homosexual. Separate from his life with Eileen he was an inept seducer, occasional stalker, and, on at least two occasions, thwarted rapist.

"In contrast, Eileen gave up her promising career in educational psychology to share his spartan lifestyle in a shack in Wallington. There she toiled at the mundane while he worked endlessly on writings that paid little, at least during his and her lifetime. She looked after him both when he was ill with tuberculosis and when he had been seriously wounded in the Spanish Civil War, saved his life (and his manuscript) in that same war, supported him financially in the early 1940s, suffered his affairs, typed and edited his writings, and co-authored his breakthrough work Animal Farm. It is, says Anna Funder, a contribution that has to date gone unrecognised, both by Orwell himself and his many biographers (about whom more to come and plenty).

"Wifedom sets out to make good this seventy-year oversight, alert us to the casual inequality in Orwell's marriage to Eileen, and, more generally, to the enduring inequality of marriage as an institution, and wifedom as a status. And yet, curiously, it ends up being mainly a book about Orwell. Eileen is discussed almost solely in the context of her famous husband, primarily in order to show that this was a relationship that gave her little and him a lot. Rarely, indeed, is an opportunity missed to show, by fact, anecdote or conjecture, how deeply flawed a person Orwell was and it is this flawed Orwell that is the book's abiding afterimage. The result is a kind of evil twin to Christoper Hitchens's Orwell's Victory (2002), a work in which barely a word of criticism -- quite possibly not a word at all -- is offered of its subject. Indeed, Wifedom may well prove the biggest blow to Orwell's reputation since the revelation, some twenty-five years ago, that he named the names of suspected communist sympathisers for the Information Research Department. It might even lead to his being 'cancelled', made unmentionable in enlightened circles. To her credit, Funder says that is not her intention. Cancellation and the threat of it are to her 'a new kind of tyranny' signalling the end of art. The art and the artist, she maintains, are not the same. In the case of Orwell, we should cherish the work while being wise to the man, just as he was with Kipling and Ezra Pound. Not everyone, alas, will see it that way. Wifedom, despite its author's best intentions, could yet contribute to Orwell's being unpersoned...."

~ end quoting Wifedom review by Tyrrell ~



Needless to say, Orwell would not be pleased -- and neither would his wife.

All the best,
Jackie Jura, February 2024

...cont'd at ORWELL'S EILEEN'S JULIA IN 1984


I hope the passages from books describing Orwell's and Eileen's own words and actions will serve as an antidote against the poison the me-too feminists have injected into the mainstream media with their heavily promoted lie-ographies.

FictionShelfJulia    BioShelfWifedom

I spoke too soon when I assumed both books were under FICTION at the bookstore when in fact only JULIA is. WIFEDOM is under BIOGRAPHY as I discovered when looking for it, photos above.

PS2 - Here's further promotion of WIFEDOM and JULIA on the ORWELL SOCIETY website -- a panel discussion on books about George Orwell published in 2023:

OrwellBooks2023 watch GEORGE TALKS, February 18, 2024, You Tube
Starting at the 1-hour, 21-minute mark Sylvia Topp, author of EILEEN: THE MAKING OF GEORGE ORWELL says: "...So everyone's worried about whether Orwell's reputation will be hurt by the Funder book but we also have to think about Eileen and how much damage she did to Eileen and that will be harder to recover because there's not too much to go back to refer to. But I've always thought, when I looked at the cover of the book, it says the "invisible" wife and I think what she proceeded to do was make Eileen, the real Eileen, even more invisible. She just sort of wiped her out..." [Quinton Kopp interjects]: Well that's exactly what I said to her when I first got the book and I wrote directly to her with some initial thoughts that she's diminished Eileen and not enhanced her reputation at all.... "In the real text she often praises her -- you know it's an exceptionally well-written book -- and she does put in alot of praise for Eileen that I believe she's copying from my book to yeah, in the end where she puts in dialogue, the fake dialogue. That's where she really tries, seems to want to destroy Eileen's strength. I also just want to add that I'm perhaps the only one who really believed that they did have an open marriage. I really do believe that Eileen had a relationship with Quinton's father [Georges Kopp] [here in the video Quinton Kopp squirms with delight]. And I've seen hints here and there, and wonder if Peter has heard of the other two relationships she had while they were married. And haven't people tried to research those and didn't find any proof? But otherwise she seems very casual about his affairs -- she's not devastated in any way...."

PS3 - A good friend of Eileen, Lettice Cooper (novelist and biographer) was interviewed in 1964 and her memoir published in ORWELL REMEMBERED in 1984. I recognize facts that Funder, in WIFEDOM, has twisted the meaning of to use against Orwell and Eileen in her character assassination of them both. I suspect Funder used Cooper, out of context, as a source.


EileenPg162 EileenPg

"...George first saw her at a party at which she was 'rather drunk and behaving my worst, very rowdy'. He said to somebody here that he was going to marry that girl... I can't remember the date of the marrtiage. Before that, Eileen was working as secretary to her brother, who was a surgeon. He was killed at Dunkirk; this was a blow from which I think Eileen never entirely recovered. She and George went for their honeymoon to a cottage at Wallington in Herts... A nice old cottage in a remote, pretty village. This was always their retreat. But it was frequently nominally lent to other people... Anyting that Eileen or George possessed was liable to be lent or given to anybody in need... She shared his political views, but much less solemnly....

"When I met her, she arrived at the Ministry of Food in Portman Square to take the place of looking after the 'Kitchen Front' Broadcasts... I can see Eileen very vividly now, the first time I met her. Small with blue eyes and nearly black hair, pretty with very pretty hands and feet and a body beautifully poised on her legs. Good but shabby and unbrushed clothes, generally black... She had the kind of mind that was always grinding. She was interested in most things, but especially in people. George was not in the least interested in people except in large political masses. He seldom wrote about them and knew nothing at all about them. He was in many ways a very ingenuous [innocent and unsuspecting] man, but with immense charm that was very difficult to define. He was surrounded by adorers, male and female, and at that time anyhow he stalked through them without noticing them very much, so that they usesd to turn to Eileen for sympathy. Somebody was always ringing up and saying, 'Have I annoyed George?', 'What is the matter?', 'George wouldn't speak to me', when George had just not happened to be thinking about them at all. No one of us is entirely without jealousy or rancour, but Eileen seemed to be as free from them as anybody I have ever known and she had an inexhaustable capacity for being interested in other people's affairs. She and George were always hard up, always bombed out, always in difficulties, but always helping somebody else, and never really ruffled by their difficulties...

"They certainly did give rations away. I remember once that Eileen brought me a pound of sugar for my Wardens Post where we were kept very short of supplies and needed much more than the allowance of tea and sugar when we were up all night. Eileen said, 'I told George I was going to take you a pound of sugar for your Post... I can't remember how many times they were bombed out... I remember Eileen telling me that she had been coming downstairs when a bomb dropped nearby. There was an elderly woman in the block who was terrified. Eileen saw George kneeling by her with his hand on her head, patting her and 'looking like Christ'. He had sympathy for human beings in situations he could understand. He just never knew anything about the complications of their thoughts and feelings. Both he and Eileen were among the most fearless people I met, though she hated the 'doodle-bugs' (flying bombs). She said that George once said in bed at night, 'I always know when one is coming right over us because I feel your heart beating faster against me.'... They had the same ideas about how to live. Eileen was very delicate...

"George was mad to adopt a baby, since they had not had one. Eileen was nervous for fear she should not be able to love an adopted child enough. It meant giving up her own work in the Ministry of Food where she was very happy and where she had a life of her own, not as George's wife, but she would not deny him the wish of his heart... Eileen became at once devoted to the child, and George was transfigured with tenderness... Eileen's sister-in-law, Gwen O'Shaughnessy, owned a house near Newcastle; she had a little boy of her own about five and an adopted girl of two. She herself was a doctor working in Greenwich. She sent the two children with her nurse to this house away from the flying bombs. Eileen joined them there with Richard, I think early in 1945 when George went abroad. She had been ill...and the doctors said she must get out of London and rest... She was keenly alive to George's work and seemed to me a very good critic of it. He read it all aloud to her, I think certainly he read Animal Farm every evening when she went home, and she used to come in and tell us next morning how it was getting on, she knew at once that it was a winner...."

~ end quoting Eileen's friend Lettice Cooper ~

PS4 - Being myself a 'wife', I don't take offense to my 'husband' describing me as such when in discussion with others -- only in his case, being a working-class Englishman, he says "the missus". In reality, it's a form of endearment, above that of a friend, and pride of possession. When Orwell refers to Eileen as his wife -- which irks the hell out of feminist-wife Funder -- he's revealing how important she is to him. At the time of writing HOMAGE TO CATALONIA -- and mentioning Eileen "37 times" without using her name -- Orwell was a newly-wed thriving in the comfort and security of marriage.

More importantly -- and seemingly beyond the concept of Funder -- in HOMAGE TO CATALONIA Orwell is narrating from the objective, not familiar point of view. For example, in describing his thoughts after realizing he'd been shot through the neck, he says, "...I assumed that I was killed. And that too was interesting -- I mean it is interesting to know what your thoughts would be at such a time. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world... Not being in pain, I felt a vague satisfaction. This ought to please my wife, I thought; she had always wanted me to be wounded, which would save me from being killed when the great battle came....". Orwell uses the word "doctor" countless times throughout the narrative and not once names the doctor or "the American sentry" when describing "the American" who jumped into action saving him. There are other examples of "refs unpersons" Funder could tally in her diatribe, but doesn't, as they don't serve her purpose of demonizing Orwell. Funder mentions her own 'husband' more than once in her book, according to reviewers, but no one mentions if she mentions his name.

PS5 - Here's another vignette of Orwell and Eileen's love:

BIG BROTHER BUGGERS (...The wartime London to which he returned still lay under its own mist of gloom, and he had been robbed of the bright, lively partner who actually cared about him and his newly adopted son. On top of all this came the Bomb. In these circumstances Jura would become his new Golden Country... Jura was also a chance to renew himself, to start afresh, to return, as it were, to the primitive simplicities he had enjoyed as a boy at large... 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...")

PS6 - Here, compiled in a book, are articles I wrote defending Orwell from mis-interpretation and personal attack:


PS7 - Over the years, see below, I've written extensively about Orwell's wife Eileen (and her brilliant beloved brother) and she comes to life as an equal partner in love with and loved by her husband, George (as she called him, not Eric)

EileenBookCover DID WIFE EILEEN MAKE ORWELL? (Sylvia says her book about Orwell's extraordinary first wife, Eileen O'Shaugnhessy just got published & hopes I'll mention it on my website)




VolumeOne LetterPg264 LetterPg266 Orwell letter to Eileen from Hospital, Monflorite, 5 April 1937 (before shot thru neck on May 20)
(In order to be near her husband, Eileen Blair had gone out to Barcelona in mid-February 1937 and worked as John McNair's secretary at the ILP office)

"Dearest, You really are a wonderful wife. When I saw the cigars my heart melted away... I hate to hear of you having a cold & feeling run down. Don't let them overwork you either & don't worry about me, as I am much better & expect to go back to the lines tomorrow or the day after... The weather is much better, real spring most of the time & the look of the earth makes me think of our garden at home & wonder whether the wallflowers are coming out & whether old Hatchett is sowing the potatoes... Everyone has been very good to me while I have been in hospital, visiting me every day etc... Thanks ever so much for sending the things, dear & do keep well & happy... Goodbye, love. I'll write again soon. With all my love, Eric"



ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY (...At the time Eileen wrote this letter [about her brother & Marx the dog], three months before Orwell was admitted to Preston Hall in March 1938, she and Orwell had been married for a year and a half, and in that time period, Orwell had almost completely destroyed his health. The day after their wedding in Wallington in June 1936 Orwell had gone right back to work writing THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER. Then immediately after sending it to the publisher in December 1936, he'd gone to Spain (Eileen followed soon after) and spent six months there fighting alongside Spanish socialists defending their coalition government against overthrow by communist-capitalist-backed fascist Franco... Once back in Wallington, Orwell worked non-stop writing HOMAGE TO CATALONIA - his book about the Spanish Civil War and his experiences there - in between planting the vegetable garden, looking after the animals (chickens, goats, dog, cat) and writing articles and reviews of, among other things, other people's books on the Spanish Civil War. But his articles, and even some of his reviews, were refused publication by all the main newspapers and magazines because they exposed Stalin's alliance with Franco and Communism's betrayal of the Socialist government. This suppression of the truth enraged Orwell and caused him incredible stress, on top of worrying about finding a publisher for his book. And sure enough, HOMAGE TO CATALONIA was rejected by Victor Gollancz, his previous publisher, but accepted, finally, by Warburg & Warburg - and came out in April 1938... Meanwhile Eileen, who prior to marrying Orwell had been pursuing an advanced degree in psychology and living with her brother and his wife - also a doctor - in their home in Greenwich Park, London, was burning the candle - literally - at both ends. Their house in Wallington was medieval-like in its primitiveness - no electricity, no hot water, no inside toilet, no real stove to cook on (just Calor gas) and no functioning fireplace for heat (just a little oil-burner in the kitchen). But still - on top of all the housework and helping Orwell in the garden - she was not only proof-reading and doing the final typing of Orwell's book - by candle-light - but also proof-reading and typing the final copy of her brother's latest tuberculosis textbook... So that sets the scene for March 1938 when Orwell had to be rushed by ambulance from Wallington in Hertfordshire to Preston Hall in Kent, thirty miles south of the outskirts of London - an all-day trip for Eileen to go visit him in the ensuing months - in between looking after everything alone at home...

OrwellFamilyJJ OrwellFamilyJJura EileenBrotherSon Orwell Family Tree (...Another mention of thanks goes to Jackie Jura whose contributions are wide-ranging and eclectic, in a dramatically emphatic style...)

ORWELL A WRITER WRONGED (...Orwell's will had made Sonia joint guardian of his adopted son, Richard, with George's sister, Avril. Sonia thought the child would be better off being brought up by his aunt in Scotland, so they rarely saw one another. But Sonia made sure his allowances, college fees and much more besides were paid through GOP...In her will, Sonia left Orwell's rights to Richard Blair, who has them to this day. "She did the right thing by my father," he says...)







...It seems that Inez Holden and another woman poet/writer named Stevie Smith (who Orwell also used to ask to do readings for BBC) were infatuated with Orwell. They even used to go so far as to complain to Eileen if they weren't getting enough attention from him. Another woman at the BBC who fell in love with Orwell was his secretary, Sally McEwen. They all eventually made trips up to Jura to visit Orwell but they are not among the women he proposed to after Eileen's death.... Inez was one of the very few people who witnessed Orwell in a moment of emotional breakdown... Inez went with him to the train station to see him off as he travelled up north to arrange Eileen's funeral. Years later she also witnessed Orwell cry when talking about Eileen. Inez seems to have hoped that Orwell would fall in love with her after Eileen's death and they would go and live together in the country. But that didn't happen. Instead Orwell fell in love with Inez's cousin Celia Paget, who was the twin sister of the wife of his friend Arthur Koestler, another anti-communist writer. But Celia was ten years younger than "George" and wanted him as a friend, not a lover or husband, and in spite of her rejecting him they remained friends until his death... Actually it was to Celia in 1949 that Orwell had handed his list of suspected Communists.... In spite of Orwell not being in love with Inez the way she was seemingly in love with him, they remained close friends. She was among the people he invited to his Canonbury apartment to listen to the radio adaptation of Animal Farm when it was broadcast on BBC...

SouthShieldBeach AngelofNorth JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA
...Orwell's wife Eileen had been born and raised in South Shields and she is buried in Newcastle. Several times on his journeys to and from Jura Orwell stopped in Newcastle to visit Eileen's grave. As we passed the "Angel of The North" I snapped a photo in rememberance of her for Orwell. I tried to imagine how hard it must have been for Orwell to be leaving Jura for the last time, knowing that he would never be back and that he didn't have long to live. The tune to Roger Whittaker's song "Durham Town" kept running through my head: "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... Back in nineteen eighty-four, I remember Orwell walking out the door, Many said he would write no more, he was leaving... 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...)


VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH (...And there on the right, in all its glory, is St. Mary's Church where on Tuesday, June 9th, 1936, Eric Arthur Blair married Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy. He was 33 and she was 30.... Eileen died nine years later on March 29th, 1945, and was buried on April 3, 1945. No doubt, in cryptic remembrance of her, Orwell had Winston Smith, the hero of "1984", begin his diary on April 4th....)

*26.Julia & Rebellion (...A solitary figure was coming towards him from the other end of the long, brightly-lit corridor. It was the girl with dark hair*....A curious emotion stirred in Winston's heart...)

*VISITING ORWELL'S 77 PARLIAMENT HILL (...Turning left from Booklovers' Corner and up a steep street we soon came to the bottom of Parliament Hill which veered right off the main thoroughfare. Our destination was the house where Orwell lived after moving out of his room above the bookshop... But finally, at the very last house at the very top of the hill, we reached Orwell's house. I was amazed to see that it was next to a massive grass-covered park stretching up a rolling hill, which as I later put two and two together, was Hampstead Heath... It was his landlady on Parliament Hill who introduced Orwell to his first wife, Eileen. It happened this way: "In the spring Orwell decided to give a party, and asked his landlady, Rosalind, to join him in the fun by inviting some of her friends from University College... 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'...")



16.Ministry of Truth and 25.Proleffed and 27.Goodthink

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com