“What I have most wanted to do . . . is to make political writing into an art.” George Orwell
George Orwell was a passionate observer, thinker, and writer. The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, observes that Orwell’s novels and essays “still resonate around the world as peerless examples of courageous independence of mind, steely analysis and beautiful writing.”
Most widely known today as the author of Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), during the 1930s and 1940s Orwell published insightful and scrupulously honest essays in left-wing intellectual periodicals. From August 1938 until October 1942 he also kept a diary, with subjects ranging from how many eggs his chickens were laying to the weather to World War II.
Seventy years to the day, The Orwell Prize is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. The “domestic” diaries began on August 9th, 1938/2008. The “political” diaries will begin on September 7th, 1938/2008. The diaries are word for word as Orwell wrote them, including original spelling errors, “indicated by a ° following the offending word.”
In addition to Orwell’s exact words, the blog includes footnotes written by Peter Davison, who edited The Complete Works of George Orwell and the text of newspaper clippings Orwell pasted into his diary. As you’d expect from a blog, the entries include many links. Here’s an example:
21 August, 2008 by orwelldiaries
Yesterday fine & fairly warm. Went in afternoon and saw Kit’s Coty,¹ a druidical altar or something of the kind. It consists of four stones arranged more or less thus:
The whole about 8’ high & the stone on top approximately 8’ square by something over a foot thick. This makes about 70 cubic feet of stone. A cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of coal is supposed to weigh 27 cwt., so the top stone if of coal would weigh about 3 1/2 tons. Probably more if I have estimated the dimensions rightly. The stones are on top of a high hill & it appears they belong to quite another part of the country.
¹Kit’s Coty House is the chamber of a long barrow (an ancient grave mound) not far to the north of Aylesford. Peter Davison
*You can view an image of this entry here. The Orwell Prize