Orwell and poetry

Friday 16 March 2012

With next Wednesday, 21st March, designated World Poetry Day by UNESCO – why not take a look at Orwell’s poems in our poetry section? Orwell’s poetry may not be among his best known work, but according to biographer D.J. Taylor, the young Orwell displayed ‘an enthusiasm for poetry that in [his] formative years seems to have been as least as strong as any desire to write fiction’. As well as a selection of Orwell poems, including ‘A Happy Vicar I Might Have Been’, ‘The Lesser Evil’ and ‘Summer-like for an instant’, you can also read an essay by Orwell on ‘Poetry and the Microphone’ and D.J. Taylor’s take on Orwell and poetry.

Orwell Prize Entries 2012

A reminder that this year’s longlists will be announced on Wednesday 28th March. The full list of entries, for the Book PrizeJournalism Prize and Blog Prize can be found on our website.At the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival 2012

We’ll be at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival for a fifth year, with three events. Click on the event titles for full details, to book and to read some relevant Orwell essays:

  • Homage to Catalonia: the Spanish Civil War, 2pm, Friday 30 March: Helen Graham, Paul Preston, Francisco Romero Salvado, chaired by Jean Seaton
  • The Road to Wigan Pier: 75 years on, 6.30pm, Saturday 31 March: Stephen Armstrong, Beatrix Campbell, Paul Mason, chaired by D. J. Taylor
  • Politics and the Press, 4pm, Sunday 1 April: Gaby Hinsliff, Martin Moore, Lance Price, chaired by Jean Seaton

From the archive

Inside the Whale, a collection of essays by Orwell was first published on 11th March 1940. The selection consisted of some of Orwell’s most famous essays: ‘Charles Dickens’, ‘Boys’ Weeklies’, and ‘Inside the Whale’. Also published on the same day in 1935, was Orwell’s novel A Clergyman’s Daughter. You can find the first chapter on our website, along with the essay ‘Hop-picking’, an activity which features in the book.

    From elsewhere

    Allan Massie blogs for The Telegraph on ‘The genius of George Orwell’. Suggesting his ‘As I Please’ columns for The Tribune, “remain remarkably fresh and interesting”. Orwell scholar Anthony Lock, reflects on the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier for openDemocracy. He speculates on what a ‘cyber-Orwell, 109 years old’, might remark on if he could travel on his journey again in 2012. Simon Lancaster suggests in the Guardian, that today’s politicians are unable to live by Orwell’s creed outlined in ‘Politics and the English Language’. Instead of ‘constantly seeking to coin new, inspiration phrases’, leaders should, Lancaster says, ‘echo what they hear on the streets’.