George Orwell: A Life in Letters (ed Peter Davison)

A red-letter day for all Orwell fans

Orwell was an indefatigable letter-writer, banging them out even when ill in bed with his typewriter balanced on his knees.

There are letters here to Arthur Koestler, Anthony Powell, Cyril Connolly, Alex Comfort, Liddell Hart, Victor Gollancz and The Spectator, about politics, war, literature and the difficulty of getting Animal Farm published. (It was rejected by TS Eliot at Faber.) There are also letters to members of the public, answering their queries or criticisms in generous detail; letters to his first wife, Eileen, and her replies. (Her style is similar to his own, full of strong reactions and vivid phrases.) An admirable character emerges: free-thinking, highly intelligent, devoted to friends, stoical in misfortune. A must for Orwell fans.