Reader Orwell Letchworth Book Orwell


To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

I apologise for the delay in notifying you of publication of a book that is largely based on the academic seminar I organised as part of the George Orwell Festival in Letchworth in 2011.

Orwell Today
edited by Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln
Abramis Academic Publishing, 2012

The book brings together the writings of nine leading Orwell scholars offering new and sometimes controversial insights into the man whom Timothy Garton Ash described as the 'most influential political writer of the twentieth century'. The essays are divided into three sections:

- Orwell: The Personal and the Political
- Orwell and the Media
- Orwell's Politics, Paradoxes, Appropriations and Problematics

They include:

- The Intimate Orwell: Women's Productions, Feminist Consumption
- Lessons in Autobiografiction for the Twenty-First Century
- Of Pigs and Men: The Politics of Nature in the Fiction of George Orwell
- Orwell's Squeamishness
- Sceptic in the Palace of Dreams: Orwell as Film Reviewer
- George Orwell: Cold War Radio Warrior?
- Learning From His Enemies: George Orwell and British Communism
- The Myth of Orwell: The Canadian Press and Its Orwellian Use of Eric Arthur Blair

Kind regards,
John Webb

Greetings John,

I recall our previous email discussion of a couple years ago when you were arranging a celebration of Eric Blair's life in Letchworth and hoping Orwell specialists would attend -- including members of the Orwell Prize committee.

I did see the announcement -- last year -- of a book named ORWELL TODAY being published and was somewhat perturbed that it had copied my website's name.

The titles of the essays imply, in my opinion, that they were written by academics who Orwell disdained in THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER as "fruit-juice drinking, nudist, sandal-wearing, sex-maniac, 'Nature Cure' quacks, pacifists, feminists and fuzzy-haired Marxists".

With your having communicated with my ORWELL TODAY website prior to the Eric Blair festival you probably did, as you say, have influence on the name of the book that came out of the 2011 seminar.

Although I hold no claim to the ORWELL TODAY name for anything other than my website -- which compares the world we are living in today with the world Orwell described in "1984" -- it seems to me that the book isn't really about Orwell 'today' but is more about Orwell 'yesterday'.

But "what's in a name?" as Shakespeare has said, ie "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

All the best,
Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

Thanks for your email.

In your reply you jumped to conclusions (understandably in the first instance):

(1) " probably did, as you say, have influence on the name of the book..." : I had no such influence nor being otherwise engaged did I notice the apparent coincidence when I heard of the title months after publication.

(2) "...written by academics who Orwell disdained in THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER as..." : None of the academic speakers were from Letchworth, so I don't see a connection.

You are welcome to verify the above with the editor, Richard Lance Keeble*.

Please set the record straight on a goodwill basis.


Greetings again John,

I guess there's a bit of misunderstanding on my part, ie where you say you influenced the publication of the book, I assumed you influenced the NAME of the book too, whereas in fact you were unaware it had the same name as my website.

And on your part there's misunderstanding regarding what I meant, ie I said Orwell had disdain for the academics who attended the Letchworth seminar -- I didn't say that the academics were FROM Letchworth.

There's no ill-will -- it's all good.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Thanks, Jackie!


ME-TOO JULIA SAY ORWELL MiSOGYNIST (PS4 - ...I was surprised to hear the harsh condemnation of Orwell by ORWELL SOCIETY patron Keeble whose publicist contacted me 12 years ago promoting the book. I was a bit miffed he gave it the same name as my website:

PS5 - Actually, I shouldn't have been surprised at the ORWELL SOCIETY's positive attitude toward the feminist perspective because their member, Keeble -- who plagiarized my ORWELL TODAY website name as the title of his book -- was the first to label Orwell a mysogynist and other unflattering attributes that the authors of WIFEDOM and JULIA plagiarized almost verbatim:

OrwellHardlySaint The cultural icon of today -- 'Orwell Today', by Orwell Society, July 21, 2012
...Let us be clear: Orwell was far from being a saint nor the entirely decent chap he is constantly portrayed as. There was a sadistic, misogynistic, permanent public school boy side to his personality. His attitudes to women were, indeed, pretty dodgy: and his constant affairs during his marriage may well have contributed to the sudden death of his wife, Eileen O'Shaughnessy, in 1945 from a broken heart....

*Richard Lance Keeble, Chairman of The Orwell Society (alongside Patron Richard Blair, adopted son of George Orwell)
Richard Keeble is Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, has edited Orwell Today (Arima, Bury St Edmunds, 2012), a collection of essays by top international researchers on the life and works of George Orwell. His chapter looks at Orwell's complex relationship with the intelligence services. He has also written a critical assessment of Orwell' war reporting for Journalism Studies (Vol.2, No. 3) and an analysis of his As I Please column in Tribune in The Journalistic Imagaination: Literary Journalists from Defoe to Capote and Carter which he co-edited (Routledge, 2007).

Letchworth hosts George Orwell festival, BBC, Sep 14, 2011
A Hertfordshire town where George Orwell spent part of his life is hosting a festival to celebrate his work. Letchworth is hosting a series of events until 18 September including stage adaptations of his stories. The author spent part of his life in Wallington, a village near the town. Richard Hallmark, festival committee chairman, said he hoped the event would be "accessible" and "involve people of all ages and interests"....

George Orwell Festival (An event to celebrate the writings, the ideas and the life of George Orwell, in Letchworth and Wallington, Hertfordshire England, where he lived for some of the most important years of his writing career. The event in 2011 runs from 9th September to 18th September....)

John is arranging a celebration in Letchworth on Eric Blair's life, his thinking and writing (to bring out his relevance today and for the future...)

Puppet Orwell Puppet Marx ORWELL ARCH-ENEMY OF MARX


VISITING ORWELL'S WALLINGTON HOUSE (...A few miles down the main highway we got off at a roadside travel center and after a quick bite to eat drove the rest of the way on a country road. Before long we saw signs announcing "Baldock" which is the closest big town to Wallington. As we approached the centre of town we saw a turn-off to the city of "Letchworth" which is where Orwell used to attend seminars of the Independent Labour Party summer school which, as he wrote

Jackie Jura
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