Happy Birthday, George!

Friday 24 June 2011

George Orwell was born on 25th June 1903, so tomorrow (Saturday) would have been his 108th birthday. You could celebrate with a birthday cake – perhaps made from one of Orwell’s own recipes. His unpublished 1946 essay, ‘British Cookery’, features a recipe for treacle tart and one for plum cake (as well as Christmas pudding and a controversial marmalade). You can read the full essay on our website, or view the original typescript in our flickr stream.

Buxton Festival, 13th July

To mark the 65th anniversary of Orwell’s essay, ‘Politics and the English Language’, we’ll be asking ‘is politics corrupted by corrupted language?’ at this year’s Buxton Festival, on 13th July at 10.30am. Our panel will consist of Nick Cohen (journalist and author, previously shortlisted for What’s Left? and longlisted for Waiting for the Etonians), Linda Grant (Orange Prize-winning and Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist, books include the recent We Had It So Good) and Matthew Parris (journalist and former MP, winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2005, previously shortlisted for Chance Witness). Tickets are available from the Festival website. And you can watch our previous events at Buxton –Andrea Gillies in conversation with her publisher Rebecca Nicolson, Andrew Brown in conversation with David Blunkett MP, a debate on Orwell vs Dickens, and a discussion on ‘what makes a good political novel?’ – in our events archive.

From the archive

Burmese Days was published for the first time in the UK on this day in 1935. As you’d expect, there’s plenty about the book on our Burmese Days page, including the first chapter. We have Orwell’s preliminary sketches for Burmese Days (including ‘An Incident in Rangoon’, which reads like a short story – and we have video of it being read by actor Alan Cox); two of his major essays, ‘Shooting an Elephant’ and ‘A Hanging’; and plenty about the book from editor Peter Davison, academic Douglas Kerr and author and journalist Emma Larkin, among others. There’s also video of our own events on contemporary Burma, including our 2010 launch debate. This week is Independent Booksellers’ Week in the UK, so it’s a good time to revisit Orwell’s ‘Bookshop Memories’, about his own experience of bookselling. Two other Orwell essays, ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’ and ‘Good Bad Books’, might also be worth reading.

From elsewhere

The Wartime Diaries

Over the last week, entries were published on 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd June. Over the next week, entries will be published on 30th June.

The Wigan Pier Diaries

The final entry was published on 25th March. In addition to the blog, we have a Google Map tracking Orwell’s journey, a flickr set of archive images, and our page on The Road to Wigan Pier, with the first chapter and other links. If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on gavin.freeguard@mediastandardstrust.org or follow us on Twitter. And you can subscribe to this newsletter via email.