Radio 4′s Great Lives programme features George Orwell.

Listen to the Radio 4 programme Great Lives. MP Alan Johnson, Matthew Paris and Jean Seaton discuss the life and works of George Orwell.

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Are tyrants good for art?

An interesting piece from the BBC website by John Gray.

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The 2012 Festival programme is here!


A programme with full details of this year’s festival is now available from David’s Bookshop, The Letchworth Tourist Information Centre, or by downloading here 2012 festival programme.

Please be aware: There is a change to our published programme. 

Unfortunately Gavin Knight cannot attend the Orwell Prize debate, however we have a worthy replacement in Gwenton Sloley.

This Year’s Events…

*Thursday 20th September 7.30Orwell Prize evening at The Ballroom Spirella Building Letchworth.

The four speakers will be …

* Chair – Katriona Lewis, Operations Manager, The Orwell Prize.

* Stephen Armstrong,  the author of Road to Wigan Pier Revisited. He writes for the Guardian, the Sunday Times, GQ, Elle, Wallpaper and the New Statesman, as well as showing up on Radio 4 whenever they let him.

* Dr Michael Sayeau  is on the Board of trustees for the Orwell Archive at UCL. He is a lecturer of English whose own work includes an examination of the everyday in modern literature.

* Gwenton Sloley was a character in Gavin Knight’s novel Hood Rat which was shortlisted for The Orwell Prize. He’s a former gang member from Hackney who left prison, turned his life around and now helps children in poverty to stay out of gang crime. He is also the author of From the Streets to Scotland Yard.

Please note: Gwenton replaces Gavin Knight who is unable to attend the debate.

Jacqueline Crooks is the director of Befriend a family who work with children living in poverty within Westminster. She is also a published writer.

The title of the debate is ‘Poverty then and now: Orwell and his successors.’

Before the debate starts we will be auctioning a 1937 edition of Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier.

Tickets at  £5 are still  available from David’s Bookshop , on the door, or from


*Saturday 22nd September 7.30. David’s Bookshop, Letchworth.  

Jack Common and George Orwell in Wallington. A talk by Keith Armstrong, author of  Common Words and the Wandering Star; the biography of Jack Common, a friend of George Orwell who helped run the village stores in Wallington during his visits to London. Jack Common’s son, Peter, who lived at the cottage during Orwell’s absence, will also be at the event. Tickets will be available from from David’s Bookshop, early booking is advised.


*Saturday 22nd September 1pm.

La Concha Wine Bar, Station Place, Letchworth.

A Homage To Barcelona – a Celebration lunch recalling Orwell’s time in the Catalan capital.

*Giant Paella  * Tapas dishes  * Spanish music

Price £12, please book in advance at the bar.



*Sunday 23rd September 2.30 Orwell Guided Walk around Wallington. Included in this tour is the cottage where Orwell lived, the church where he married and ‘Manor Farm’,  the inspiration for Animal Farm. The walk will last about an hour followed by teas in the village hall. Please note; the cottage is not available to visit, as it remains in private ownership but can be viewed from the road. However the Great Barn will be open to those on the tour, thanks to the generosity of the farm’s owners.

Please be advised that building work has started on the church roof, we will have access but strictly under the supervision of the guide, Dan Pinnock. We are also pleased to announce that a crew from the BBC TV programme ‘Flog It’ will be in attendence during the walk.

The tour, led by local historian Dan Pinnock, is free and there is no need to book in advance. Meet at Wallington Village Hall at 2.30.

There is plenty of free car parking in the village, either opposite the village hall or on the grass verge by the road.

For further details and how to find Wallington click here.






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Barcelona Walking Tours


An interesting article from The Observer Magazine concerning a series of walking tours that feature Barcelona’s role in The Spanish civil war. The idea came from the tour guide, Stockport-born Nick Lloyd, who says “The people who take the tour come from all over the world. If there’s a common link, it’s Orwell and anarchism.”

There is a link in the article with further information for those planning a visit to the city and are interested in taking the tour.

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‘Vanity Fair’ publishes Hitchens’s introduction to Orwell’s diaries…

The introduction to the diaries of George Orwell by the late essayist Christopher Hitchens has been published in US magazine Vanity Fair, UK Newspaper The Guardian reports today. In it Hitchens explores everything from Orwell’s “self-education away from… prejudices” to the events which gave rise to his novel of a dystopian future, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Orwell Diaries, released in the UK by Penguin in 2010, are set to be published for the first time in America next month.

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Oppenheim tipped to script new ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ movie

Orwell’s frighteningly prophetic tale of totalitarianism run amok, is once again headed to the silver screen. Read more here.

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George Orwell Festival 2012 calls for more volunteers

The George Orwell Festival 2012 (20th-23rd September 2012) is calling
for volunteers who can contribute time and expertise to help make the
2012 venture as successful as last year’s inaugural event. The
Festival is inviting people with an interest in the best-selling
author of classics like Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four to join
the organising committee. The George Orwell Festival 2012 is not
primarily a ‘literary’ event – it covers a broader range of interests
and activities. The Festival Committee would like to hear from
interested individuals willing to attend monthly evening meetings (of
about 90 minutes) at David’s Bookshop (Eastcheap, LGC) and be willing
to assist with the preparations in the run-up to the September 2012
event. Experience of organising similar community events would, of
course, be an asset. The Festival would also be pleased to hear from
people with Web and Internet skills who could help keep the 2012
Festival website updated. Even help with basic admin would be welcome.
If you are interested in getting involved contact:
Richard Hallmark, committee chair: 0790 3602078. Email:

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MOBOTIX takes the spotlight at Orwell Festival… reports on one of the highlights of the George Orwell Festival: the well-received presentation from CCTV expert Stephen Burley which argued that: “Next-generation CCTV technology is shaping our future for the better”, complete with a demonstration of a cutting-edge MOBOTIX CCTV system.

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“They’ve turned Occupy London into ‘Animal Farm’…”

According to a report in today’s Daily Mail, the Occupy London camp in the London’s financial district is “having trouble controlling its own financial affairs”: “This week some demonstrators were accused of becoming ‘elitist’ with too much power over the group amid accusations of the misuse of funds,” claims the report. “Some were said to regard themselves as ‘more equal than others’ and have been compared to the ruling elite satirised in George Orwell’s famous ‘Animal Farm’. Read the full story here.

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‘Hacking away at the truth’

“I wouldn’t have become a journalist were it not for George Orwell…”
Read the full text of Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s Orwell Lecture 2011 – organised by Organised by the Orwell Trust and Birkbeck College, University of London – which he delivered yesterday evening…

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