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George Orwell Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0103 ORWELL
Held at: University College London
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Full title: George Orwell Papers
Date(s): 1875-[1997]
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 16 boxes, 49 volumes, 10 files, c200 photographs
Name of creator(s): Blair | Eric Arthur | 1903-1950 | novelist and journalist known as George Orwell
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born in Motihari, Bengal, India, 25 June 1903; educated at Eton, 1917-1921; served in Burma in the Indian Imperial Police, 1922-1928; lived for several years in poverty, as a dish-washer in Paris, France, and as a tramp in England, 1928-1931; school teacher at the Hawthorns, Middlesex, 1932-1933; part-time assistant in a Hampstead bookshop, London, 1934-1935; wrote books and novels, 1933-1949; married Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy (died 1945), 1936; reviewer of novels for the New English Weekly, until 1940; visited areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, 1936; wounded in Spain fighting for the Republicans, 1937; member of the Home Guard during World War Two; worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation Eastern Service, 1940-1943; Literary Editor of Tribune, 1943-1945; war correspondent for the Observer, 1945; regular contributor to the Manchester Evening News, 1943-1946; suffered from tuberculosis, often in hospital, 1947-1950; married Sonia Mary Brownell, 1949; died, 21 January 1950. Publications: Down and out in Paris and London (Victor Gollancz, London, 1933); Burmese days (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1934); The road to Wigan pier (Victor Gollancz, London, 1937); Homage to Catalonia (Secker & Warburg, London, 1938); Coming up for air (Victor Gollancz, London, 1939); The lion and the unicorn (Secker & Warburg, London, 1941); Animal farm (Secker & Warburg, London, 1945); Critical essays (Secker & Warburg, London, 1946); The English people (Collins, London, 1947); Nineteen eighty-four (Secker & Warburg, London, 1949); Shooting an elephant, and other essays (Secker & Warburg, London, 1950).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of and relating to George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), 1875-[1997], comprising manuscripts and typescripts, 1917-1959 (Ref: A); literary notebooks, 1939-[1949] (Ref: B); Spanish Civil War material, 1936-1939 (Ref: C); general notebooks, 1943-[1950] (Ref: D); political diaries, 1938-1942 (Ref: E); domestic diaries, 1938-1948 (Ref: F); letters from Orwell, 1911-1949 (Ref: G); letters to Orwell, 1928-1950 (Ref: H); associated material, 1935-1949 (Ref: I); personalia, 1903-1971 (Ref: J); Eileen Blair papers [1920s]-1967 (Ref: K); family papers, 1875-1968 (Ref: L); posthumous material, 1950-1972 (Ref: M); proofs, 1932-1953 (Ref: N); radio scripts, 1943-1957 (Ref: O); adaptation scripts and screenplays of Orwell's work, 1952-1986 (Ref: P); documentary scripts, 1946-1983, of recorded interviews about Orwell (Ref: Q); audio-visual cassettes, 1983-[1997], about Orwell and his work (Ref: R); Sonia Orwell papers, 1937-1977 (Ref: S); photographs, 1893-1984 (Ref: T).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, with some French, German and Japanese.

System of arrangement:

Arranged in sub-fonds as indicated in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Certain restrictions apply. Parts of the collection are closed. Please contact UCL Special Collections for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Generally normal copyright restrictions apply; however, the BBC scripts are not to be copied without the prior permission of the Orwell estate and the Head of Copyright at the BBC. Please contact UCL Special Collections for further information.

Finding aids:

Online catalogue available. More detailed descriptions are available on a hard copy handlist. Please contact UCL Special Collections for further information.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Manuscripts, notebooks and personalia of George Orwell were presented in 1960 on permanent loan by his widow on behalf of the George Orwell Archive Trust, which have been supplemented by donations from family, friends and business associates, and by purchases. More detailed provenance is given at lower levels of description.

Allied Materials

Related material:

University College London Special Collections also holds correspondence and papers of Sir Richard Rees (George Orwell's literary executor) relating to Orwell, including letters from his wife Sonia, 1949-1950 (Ref: REES).

The British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds letters received by Orwell (Ref: Add MS 49384). See also Location register of twentieth-century English literary manuscripts (1988).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: British Library on-line public access catalogue 1997; UK National Register of Archives; Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 1996); The collected essays, journalism and letters of George Orwell vols 1-4, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (Secker & Warburg, London, 1968); George Orwell, a life by Bernard Crick (Secker & Warburg, London, 1980). Compiled by Annabel Dodds as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jul 2000; updated May 2018

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