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Item of the Month – January 2015

Letter from Geroge Orwell, 1937

Letter from George Orwell, 1937Wednesday 21 January 2015 marks 65 years since the death of George Orwell.  This letter, part of the museum’s archive collection and on permanent display in our main galleries, comes from 1937 following Orwell’s return to England after he was wounded in action during the Spanish Civil War.

It is a one page letter to the journalist Henry Brailsford concerning an article that Brailsford had published about events in Barcelona that summer.  Orwell’s interpretation differs greatly, to put it mildly, from that of Brailsford.  There is a further three page follow up letter that Orwell wrote, itself a study in measured anger, which can be read in the archive.

The subject matter in both letters was something that was never to leave Orwell for the remainder of his life, namely the way in which a person or groups of people will wilfully avoid the truth of what is staring them in the face.  Not for nothing did he later write that he always had ‘a power of facing unpleasant facts’ but it was to be what he witnessed in Spain in 1937 that contains much of the DNA of his later writings and novels.