The author of Animal Farm and 1984 was a brilliant, eccentric, complicated man. Born into a comfortable English family and educated at Eton, he was, at various times, a member of the colonial police force in Burma, a tramp, a dishwasher, a critic and journalist, a fighter in the Spanish Civil War, a teacher and a shopkeeper.
In the summer of 1983, radio producer Stephen Wadhams spent eight weeks crisscrossing Britain and Spain interviewing more than seventy people who had known Orwell for a five-hour CBC radio documentary broadcast on the first day of 1984. The result was a unique resource: more than fifty hours of interviews with a huge range of people, all of whom are now dead.
In this fascinating memoir, their recollections of Orwell are woven with biographical detail to produce a very human portrait of one of the greatest writers of our time. The list of contributors includes well-known names like Stephen Spender, Malcolm Muggeridge and Lord Astor, but also the unknown men and women who inspired much of Orwell’s writing: the men who fought beside him in Spain; classmates at Eton; his first girlfriends and confidantes; childhood friends and family members, including his adopted son Richard.
In the weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, 1984 with its critiques of propaganda and doublespeak hit number one on the Amazon bestseller lists. The Orwell Tapes brings its author to vivid life.
About the authors
Born in Weymouth, England, in 1945, Stephen Wadhams joined the BBC in 1968. He spent 18 months as a volunteer broadcaster in Malawi, Africa, before moving to Canada in 1974 to join the CBC Radio program “As it Happens.” He then spent ten years as a documentary producer for “Sunday Morning,” producing many high-profile projects in Canada, the US, Europe and Africa. From 1990 to his retirement in 2016, Wadhams created radio documentaries for the CBC, helping colleagues and more than 200 members of the public tell their stories on the programs “Outfront” and “Living out Loud.”
Peter Davison, OBE, Ph.D., D.Litt, Hon. D. Arts, is Research Professor of English at De Montfort University, Leicester, and Emeritus Professor of English at Glynd—r University. He is a leading authority on the life and works of George Orwell. Assisted by his wife, Sheila Davison, and Ian Angus, he spent 17 years editing the 20-volume The Complete Works of George Orwell, (Secker & Warburg, 1998). His other works include The Lost Orwell (Timewell Press, 2007), George Orwell: Diaries (Penguin, 2009) and George Orwell: A Life in Letters (Penguin, 2011).
George Woodcock (1912-1995) is one of Canada's best-known and most prolific authors. He was born in Winnipeg and educated in England, where he socialized with some of the century's most prominent writers and intellectuals including Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Herbert Read and T.S. Eliot. He returned to Canada in 1949 and taught at the University of British Columbia for many years. In 1959, he founded the journal Canadian Literature. His contribtution to Canadian culture is immeasurable; he either wrote or edited over one-hundred books including The Crystal Spirit, his Governor-Genral's award-winning biography of Orwell; Gabriel Dumont, another bestselling biography; and Anarchism a guide to the political philosophy which continues to be read around the world. His wide range of writing includes literary criticism, poetry, travel writing, plays, social history, biography, politics and essays.
Other titles by George Woodcock
Colony and Confederation
Early Canadian Poets and Their Background
This Side Jordan
Walking Through the Valley
Morley Callaghan's More Joy in Heaven
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Fiction
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Poetry
Power to Us All
Consititution or Social Contract?