A Closer Look: A Life in Letters and Diaries (The Folio Society)


By George Orwell

Introduced by Peter Davison

• Three-quarter bound in cloth with a printed cloth front board • Set in Dante • 506 pages • Frontispiece and 16 pages of black & white plates, 21 integrated black & white illustrations • Printed endpapers • Ribbon marker • Blocked slipcase • 9½” x 6¾”

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting literary releases of the year, this unique new collection, compiled exclusively for The Folio Society, brings together (as the title might suggest) a sprawling assortment of letters, diary extracts and accompanying images, offering a fascinating and enriching insight into the complex and largely undiscovered life of one of literature’s most celebrated figures.

Many of his letters and diary extracts have of course been published before, but perhaps not to this extent, and in combining a lifetime of personal and intimate correspondence with two decades worth of typically Orwellian diary entries – selected by the world’s preeminent Orwell expert, Peter Davison – A Life in Letters and Diaries is pretty much as close as it gets to the autobiography Orwell himself never wrote.

From The Folio Society edition of A Life in Letters and Diaries, George Orwell

For many people their first introduction to the work of Orwell is through studying his most famous novels Animal Farm and 1984 in school. Masterpieces though they both may be, it is only by poring through the likes of Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia, his powerful, earlier non-fiction works, and of the course the autobiographical, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, that you get a more detailed, rounded sense of the author himself.

A Life in Letters and Diaries takes things a step further, delving much deeper into the life behind the legacy, filling in many of the gaps and giving us a greater understanding of the relationships, events and views that underline much of his work.

From The Folio Society edition of A Life in Letters and Diaries, George Orwell

Broken up into six sections, and beginning with his time at St. Cyprian’s private preparatory school, Eastbourne in 1911 (age 8), the book offers an illuminating look at Orwell’s private, domestic life from childhood through to a concluding entry from his bedside at University College Hospital, London in September 1949 (just months before his death on 21 January 1950, age 46).

It brilliantly sheds light on his early writing struggles, his time as an amateur tramp, his political views, reportage work during the war, writing processes and the times and memories shared with his first wife Eileen; that latter imbued with such warmth, wit and irony that often contrasts the rather bleak tone Orwell is often associated with.

Even at an early age, Orwell’s lucidity and perception is plain to see, and within his awareness of social and political injustice, and strong socialist political views, we get early hints at the ideas and lightbulb moments that would form many of his major, later works.

From The Folio Society edition of A Life in Letters and Diaries, George Orwell

Davison’s thirty-first volume devoted to the work of Orwell may not be groundbreaking reading – as much of his life is already known – but it is most definitely lovingly and masterfully assembled, and proves essential reading for any one keen to dig a little deeper into the life of one of the 20th Century’s greatest and most influential literary figures.

The Folio Society edition of A Life in Letters and Diaries, George Orwell is available exclusively from www.foliosociety.com.

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