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Bernard Crick

George Orwell: A Life


Publication of a life of such a famous near contemporary has inevitably stimulated the offering of new evidence which I can now add in this revised edition. Andre Deutsch and George Mikes have given me important material on the publication of Animal Farm, Reg Groves on Orwell’s relations with British Trotskyism, Nicolas Walter on his relations with British anarchists and Dr Howard Nicholson on his last illness. And many helpful reviews and letters have led me to correct or clarify points of fact and to remedy infelicities of style. So additional thanks are particularly due to, among many who wrote to me: Sydney D. Bailey, Dr Ernest Colin-Ross, Dr John Field, Alaric Jacob, Betty O’Halloran, Andrew Roberts, Dr R. E. F. Smith, Robert D. Thornton and Iris Walkland.

In tribute to Orwell I decided seven years ago to deed the British hardback rights of this book to establish a ‘George Orwell Memorial Trust’ together with several of his old friends and admirers, notably David Astor.

April 1981


New matter continued to come in, especially stimulated by the great media non-event of ‘1984’. It is arguable whether any of it is important enough by itself to justify a new edition, but if the book is reprinted, as demand is still strong, then there is a strong cumulative case to enrich and get right essential detail. Almost all of the material that came to me directly, I passed on to the Orwell Archive and so it was available to Michael Shelden when working on his recent Orwell: the Authorised Biography, whether he was aware of the tainted source or not; as was material discovered by Dr Peter Davison while working on that masterpiece of editing, his Complete Works of George Orwell, still in progress.

Some interesting new material remained in my hands, however, largely because it was in the form of interview notes. I would have given all this to Michael Shelden had he approached me as one scholar to another, indeed approached me at all, as he should surely have done if the object is to write true history and not aggressive commercial rivalry. So I have decided to go beyond a reprint with its silent corrections of small errors and to add an Appendix of ‘Afterthoughts and Aftermatter’; but to leave the original text as it was written. None of the new evidence, both Shelden’s, Davison’s and mine, makes me want to change any essential interpretation, although in the Appendix I will amend my judgement about Nineteen Eighty-Four. The two earlier appendices, ‘The Nineteen Forty-Three Outline of Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and ‘The Dating of “Such, Such Were the Joys”’, I have axed as of little interest to the general reader, while scholars can find them in the two earlier editions in libraries.

I must now thank the following for new material or corrections: Dr Victor Alba, Ian Angus, Dr Miguel Berga, Jock Braithwaite, Lord Bonham Carter, Dr R. F. Colquhoun, Professor Peter Davison (with special warmth), Dan Oc Del-Rivo, Owen Dudley Edwards, Arieh Eilan, Mrs Richard Finch, Clive Fleay, Jill Furlong, Bert Govaerts, the late Professor Lawrence Gowing, John Harris, Paul Harris, Jane Langdon-Davies, Andrew Hamilton Lee, Sally McEwan, Edith Marrison, Michael Meyer, Harry Milton, Douglas Moyle, Colin Murry, Raymond Parkes, John Pinder, Paul Roberts, Abha Sharma Rodrigues, W. B. Sefton, the late George Stuart, Kenneth Stuart, John Wall, Professor J. Williamson, Mrs A. R. Wilson and George Woodcock. Jill Furlong, of the Orwell Archive at University College, London, was as helpful and knowledgeable as her predecessor, indeed as anyone can possibly be.

November 1991

Bernard Crick: ‘George Orwell: A Life’
Published: book ‘Penguin Books Ltd’. — 27 Wrights Lane, London w8 5TZ, England, 1992.

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Bernard Crick
George Orwell: A Life
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