Calling All Orwell Fans

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 by


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How many Orwell fans know that a tiny Hertfordshire village inspired him to write Animal Farm and 1984? Wallington has barely changed since Orwell lived there. It still has the same farm, church, houses, Post Box, Village Hall, Village Pump and, of course, the cottage where he lived. The pub where he held his wedding reception is now a private home as is the Post Office. A pair of picture book donkeys are a recent addition. Is one called Benjamin after Boxer’s friend in Animal Farm? In the road leading to the church is Manor Farm and the big black barn we know so well. One day, looking out of his window – Mr Blair – Eric – actually – let’s call him George – he disliked his birth name  – watched a small, weak, farm boy trying to manoeuvre a big, strong, farm horse (the inspiration for Boxer) up the hill to Manor Farm and wondered what would happen if the animals there rose up against humans. Eric admired Herbert. George. Wells hence, George. Orwell came from the river near his birthplace. The church, St. Mary’s, is delightful and is usually open. This is where Eric married Eileen O’Shaughnessy the love of his tragically short life. Copies of their wedding certificate are inside. As for 1984 Orwell was aghast when he opened his door one day to uniformed police there to search his home for copies of banned books. Big Brother was watching him. When the local Sorting Office opened his mail they found his friend Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Black Spring. Orwell said if Franco could take Spain, Mussolini, Italy, Hitler Germany and Stalin could rule Russia, Britain too, unless it was vigilant, could spawn a dictator.

Wallington will host an Orwell Fest in September 2011. Contact the parish council for details.

I write about Orwell’s time in Wallington in my book The Private Lives of Hertfordshire Writers ISBN 978-0-7524-4372-0

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Photography copyright Mark Playle

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