Eric sent Moore four names to choose from -
it didn't matter which one -
but he himself slightly preferred "George Orwell".


Moore forwarded the list to Gollancz
and he chose "George Orwell".
"Down and Out in Paris and London"
came out under that name
on January 9, 1933.

To Orwell Today,

Hello Jackie,

Greetings from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

I was just reading the comments on your website regarding the origin of George Orwell's name. I recall hearing a radio broadcast, some years ago (possibly some decades ago), that attributed Blair's choice of pen-name to his regard for H.G. (Herbert George) Wells. I have no opinion in the matter myself, but offer this hearsay as a contribution to your study of the author.

Malcolm Newton

Greetings Malcolm,

It's thrilling to be hearing from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, a place even more "ungettable" than the Inner Hebrides where Orwell wrote his final masterpiece - "1984". I loved my JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA back in 2004.

Map Scot Hebrides

I never totally realized - until looking again at the map in my encyclopedia (World Book) - how way OUT there the OUTER Hebrides truly are.

Thanks for the contribution of another theory on the origin of the name "George Orwell", the pseudonym Eric Blair chose to write under.

It's entirely conceivable that Eric had Herbert GEORGE WELLs in mind when he came up with the name GEORGE orWELL.

However, at the time he chose the pen name - in 1932 at age 29 - he wasn't any longer a fan of H.G. Wells, even though as a boy he had been. See WELLS' OPEN CONSPIRACY

In the first two biographies ever written about him, ie THE UNKNOWN ORWELL and ORWELL: THE TRANSFORMATION, in 1972 and 1979 respectively, Stansky and Abrahams go into a fair amount of detail about why Eric Blair decided to write under a pseudonym instead of using his own name, as I summarize below:

It was five years after he'd come home from Burma and in the interval he hadn't had a real job, other than as dishwasher and hop-picker in the line of research for his writing. He was living mainly off the money he'd saved during the five years he'd worked in Burma, and spending as little as possible on rent, living in cheap rooms in Paris and London or living with his parents. He'd decided he was going to be a published author, and was writing non-stop, submitting short-stories and poems (most of which got rejected) in between working on his first book, DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON.

When he finished DOWN & OUT in 1932 he sent it to two publishers and both of them rejected it. It was a major disappointment to Eric and with his money having run out (other than what his mother sometimes sent) he was forced to take a job as a teacher at a boys' day-school in a suburb of London.

He hadn't given up on being a writer (he'd just given up on DOWN & OUT) and in the evenings after teaching he worked on his second book, BURMESE DAYS.

Meanwhile, a friend of his, to whom he'd given the rejected manuscript of DOWN & OUT - a woman named MABEL FIERZ - had a friend in the book-agency business - LEONARD MOORE - and she took Eric's manuscript to him. He rejected it at first too, but upon her persuading him that it really was good and he should try and find a publisher for it, he agreed and sure enough, he found someone, ie VICTOR GOLLANCZ.

It took Eric totally by surprise when he got the letter from Moore saying DOWN & OUT had been accepted (as he hadn't even known that Mabel had been looking for a publisher). But by that time Eric had lost confidence in the book and felt that it must not be any good. He told Moore he was ashamed of it and didn't want it coming out in his own name (not the greatest pitchman for himself was he?). Moore said that was no problem and asked him to drop by the office to go over some minor changes and give him the name he'd want to use. Eric made the editorial changes and said he'd send in the name change later.

Weeks went by and the book was at the printers and still Eric hadn't sent the name. Moore sent a letter saying Gollancz wanted to know what name to put on the cover, as they were almost at that stage, and that if he didn't send it soon they'd just use "Mr X".

Eric wrote back with four names he said Moore and Gollancz could choose from - it didn't matter which one - but that he himself slightly preferred "George Orwell". The names on his list were:

P. S. Burton (his old tramping name)
Kenneth Miles
George Orwell
H. Lewis Allways

Moore forwarded the list to Gollancz and he chose "George Orwell". The book came out under that name a couple weeks later, on January 9, 1933.

Amazingly, and much to Eric's surprise, DOWN & OUT got good reveiws in all the papers and sold fairly well - even had to go to second printing. Eric gave signed copies to family and friends (but didn't have any left to give Mabel, so they walked to the bookstore together - staring in the window at the display - and went inside and she bought one).

From that day on Eric Blair was "George Orwell" (even to himself) and he signed both names as years went by.

EB & GO Gilded
Eric Blair ("George Orwell")

All the best,
Jackie Jura


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