I think the Tribune is the only existing weekly paper
that makes a genuine effort to be both progressive and humane —
that is, to combine a radical Socialist policy with a respect for freedom of speech
and a civilized attitude towards literature and the arts.
ORWELL'S TRIBUTE TO TRIBUNE
I hope that in 1957 I shall be writing another anniversary article.
AS I PLEASE, by George Orwell
Tribune, January 31, 1947
"...When I became aware of Tribune again I was working in the Eastern Service of the B.B.C. It was now an almost completely different paper. It had a different make-up, cost sixpence, was orientated chiefly towards foreign policy, and was rapidly acquiring a new public which mostly belonged, I should say, to the out-at-elbow middle class. Its prestige among the B.B.C. personnel was very striking. In the libraries where commentators went to prime themselves it was one of the most sought-after periodicals, not only because it was largely written by people who knew something at first hand about Europe, but because it was then the only paper of any standing which criticized the Government. Perhaps 'criticized' is an over-mild word. Sir Stafford Cripps had gone into the Government, and the fiery personality of Aneurin Bevan gave the paper its tone. On one occasion there were some surprisingly violent attacks on Churchill by someone who called himself 'Thomas Rainsboro'. This was obviously a pseudonym, and I spent a whole afternoon trying to determine the authorship by stylistic evidence, as the literary critics employed by the Gestapo were said to do with anonymous pamphlets. Finally I decided that 'Thomas Rainsboro' was a certain W??. A day or two later I met Victor Gollancz, who said to me. 'Do you know who wrote those Thomas Rainsboro' articles in Tribune? I've just heard. It was W—.' This made me feel very acute, but a day or two later I heard that we were both wrong....
Early in 1945 I went to Paris as correspondent for the Observer. In Paris Tribune had a prestige which was somewhat astonishing and which dated from before the liberation. It was impossible to buy it, and the ten copies which the British Embassy received weekly did not, I believe, get outside the walls of the building. Yet all the French journalists I met seemed to have heard of it and to know that it was the one paper in England which had neither supported the Government uncritically, nor opposed the war, nor swallowed the Russian myth. At that time there was — I should like to be sure that it still exists — a weekly paper named Libertés, which was roughly speaking the opposite number of Tribune and which during the occupation had been clandestinely produced on the same machines as printed the Pariser Zeitung.
Libertés, which was opposed to the Gaullists on one side and the Communists on the other, had almost no money and was distributed by groups of volunteers on bicycles. On some weeks it was mangled out of recognition by the censorship; often nothing would be left of an article except some such title as 'The Truth About Indo-China' and a completely blank column beneath it. A day or two after I reached Paris I was taken to a semi-public meeting of the supporters of Libertés, and was amazed to find that about half of them knew all about me and about Tribune. A large working man in black corduroy breeches came up to me, exclaimed 'Ah, vous êtes Georges Orrvell!' and crushed the bones of my hand almost to pulp. He had heard of me because Libertés made a practice of translating extracts from Tribune. I believe one of the editors used to go to the British Embassy every week and demand to see a copy. It seemed to me somehow touching that one could have acquired, without knowing it, a public among people like this: whereas among the huge tribe of American journalists at the Hotel Seribe, with their glittering uniforms and their stupendous salaries, I never encountered one who had heard of Tribune.
For six months during the summer of 1946 I gave up being a writer in Tribune and became merely a reader, and no doubt from time to time I shall do the same again; but I hope that my association with it may long continue, and I hope that in 1957 I shall be writing another anniversary article. I do not even hope that by that time Tribune will have slaughtered all its rivals. It takes all sorts to make a world, and if one could work these things out one might discover that even the — —* serves a useful purpose. Nor is Tribune itself perfect, as I should know, having seen it from the inside. But I do think that it is the only existing weekly paper that makes a genuine effort to be both progressive and humane — that is, to combine a radical Socialist policy with a respect for freedom of speech and a civilized attitude towards literature and the arts: and I think that its relative popularity, and even its survival in its present form for five years or more, is a hopeful symptom."
*probably Daily Worker, the Communist newspaper~jj
BRITISH PRESS CIRCUS DOGS and ORWELL'S TRIBUNE WAR WRITINGS
ORWELL'S LONDON DAYS
27B CANONBURY SQUARE (from Homage to Orwell, by Jackie Jura)
...It was a happy time for the Orwells when they moved to Canonbury Square after a V-1 "doodle-bug" destroyed their previous flat and temporarily buried the typescript of Animal Farm. They had a five month old baby boy named Richard Horatio Blair who they'd adopted in June 1944. Their eight-year marriage was made stronger by their mutual adoration of the baby and they were very indulgent parents. Eileen quit her job at the Ministry of Food** where she'd been working since 1942. Orwell was making enough money from his journalism for them to scrape by financially. Since quiting the BBC in 1943 he'd been literary editor of the Tribune and was writing a weekly column named "As I Please". He was also writing book reviews, essays and columns for other publications.
Then in February 1945 - as the war was winding down - the Observer offered Orwell a job as their war correspondent to France. This was the kind of job Orwell had wanted all through the war years and he jumped at the chance, telling Eileen he'd only be gone for two months. So he quit his job at the Tribune, put on a war correspondent's uniform and left for the front lines.
Eileen, who had some health problems that she was concealing from Orwell, moved with Richard up to Newcastle to stay with Dr. Gwen O'Shaugnessy, her deceased brother's wife, the one who had found the baby for them. While waiting for Orwell to return Eileen decided to have a hysterectomy to remove the tumours that were causing internal bleeding. That way she could be recuperated and ready to join him by the time he came back in April.... A short time later the operation began but within minutes something went wrong. Eileen's body reacted adversely to the anaesthetic, and she suffered a heart attack. All attempts to revive her failed and she died on the operating table.
At the same time as Eileen was having health problems in England, Orwell was having health problems in Germany. While she was in hospital in Newcastle, he was in hospital in Cologne. He'd had a serious flare-up of his lung disease, possibly a hemorrhage, and at one time, he later told a friend, 'I thought it was all up with me'. He'd just returned to Paris when he got the Observer's telegram asking for his consent for Eileen's operation. Then the next day he got another telegram from the Observer telling him that Eileen had died. He got on a military plane - his first ever flight - and arrived in London on March 31.... Orwell made arrangements for the funeral in Newcastle and Eileen was buried in a cemetary there.
Richard was looked after by their friend Kopp who had married Gwen's sister and who also lived on Canonbury Square. Then - wanting to stay busy to stay sane - Orwell returned to Europe, from April 8 to May 24, to be on the move as a war correspondent. His friends thought it would be too difficult for forty-two year old Orwell, inexperienced as he was with children, to look after a baby. They thought he would give Richard up but Orwell loved his baby boy and his link to Eileen. He became a devoted, capable father.
**The Ministry of Food office was located in the Ministry of Information building which was Orwell's model for the Ministry of Truth. It is presently used as the Senate House of the University College of London. See photo of me standing in front of it.~jj
EILEEN BLAIR'S GRAVE
excerpt from Part 1. Journey to Orwell's Jura from Pilgrimage to Orwell, by Jackie Jura:
...Leaving Scotland and heading back to my husband's relatives between Durham and Newcastle, we stopped at Hadrian's Wall. The next day, our final day up north, we all went to South Shields for a picnic but it rained so hard we ate it in the car instead of on the beach. After taking 'a seaside photo' we drove to Newcastle for shopping.
Orwell's wife Eileen had been born and raised in South Shields and she is buried in Newcastle. Several times on his journeys to and from Jura Orwell stopped in Newcastle to visit Eileen's grave. As we passed the "Angel of The North" I snapped a photo in rememberance of her for Orwell.
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~