The Real George Orwell and the BBC

Monday 28 January 2013

It’s been a phenomenal week for the Prize and Orwell fans everywhere. The inaugural launch of George Orwell Day on Monday 21st spawned a mass celebration of his works. The Orwell Prize ran a read-in of ‘Politics and the English Language’ by offering the consummate essay to read on our website. While Penguin launched their new covers designed by David Pearson which included a special release of the essay in pamphlet form for just 99p. Lots of newspapers got into the spirit of the event; Shami Chakrabarti told us what she thinks Orwell would have written about today, Prospect Magazine celebrated with their best articles on Orwell, the New Statesman looked back on their encounters with Orwell and Stuart Jeffries of the Guardian asked What would Orwell have made of the world in 2013? The Prize also made friends with a few new fans including BBC 6 Music DJ Lauren Laverne who pointed out to us that her twitter biography quotes Orwell. The excitement continues with the BBC Radio 4 season of ‘The Real George Orwell’ which will run on into February with programmes on Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia, Down and Out in London and Paris and Nineteen Eighty-Four as well as some very special biographical dramatisations of his life. There’s lots of information as well as very interesting blog posts and interviews on the BBC website for the season. The next play is aptly on his time in Burma and will broadcast at 2.15pm today.

The Irrawaddy Literary Festival

We’ll be listening to the BBC’s Burma from Burma as the Orwell Prize has now arrived in Rangoon to set up for the first international literary festival here. From Friday we will be disseminating books raised from the ‘Buy a Book for Burma’ campaign, with generous support from our good friends at Penguin Books. We’re bringing along past Prize winner Timothy Garton Ash as well as our Director Jean Seaton to speak on panels at the festival which will include an Orwell lecture as well as talks on censorship and witnessing violence. We’ll be collecting interviews from writers here as well as capturing the essence of Burma and it’s feel for Orwell all these year’s on, to bring back to you soon.

From the archive

To join in with the festival why not have a read of one of the three novels we will be giving out. The first chapters of Animal Farm, Burmese Days and Nineteen Eighty-Four are all available on our website. You can also find Orwell’s two big essays on his time in Burma as a police officer; ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant‘.

From elsewhere BBC Special

  • Who was the Real George Orwell? Biographer DJ Taylor speculates on the man himself
  • George Orwell and the BBC by Mark Lawson
  • Animal Farm narrated by Tamsin Greig
  • Homage to Catalonia Part 1 starring Joseph Milne as Eric Blair
  • Burma: a biographical play by Mike Walker
  • George Orwell’s resignation letter to the BBC
  • Aung Sun Suu Kyi on BBC Radio 4 desert island discs
  • The diaries

    Don’t forget our other Orwell Diary blogs: his Wartime Diary, Hop-Picking Diary and The Road to Wigan Pier Diary. You can sign up to our newsletter If you’ve got any suggestions about our website(s), we’d love to hear from you – email us on You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.