"Orwell genuinely believed in the freedom of the press and of speech and assembly
not only for people he agreed with but for people he disagreed with.
This extended not only to anarchists and pacifists but also to fascists and communists.
But he never wrote for fascist or communist papers,
whereas during and after the war he did
occasionally write for anarchist papers."
ORWELL & THE ANARCHISTS
"Orwell contributed time and money as well as his name
to the Freedom Defence Committee.
Over a period of four years he signed letters,
wrote articles and made speeches for it,
and also lent it his wife's typewriter."
To Orwell Today,
Just discovered this little gem online reference to the artist Augustus John, thought you might be interested:
"During the war years he dabbled with the Greenshirts & the Social Credit Party and in 1945 joined with Benjamin Britten, E. M. Forster, GEORGE ORWELL, Herbert Read and Osbert Sitwell in sponsoring the Freedom Defence Committee 'to defend those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, writing and action'. This was an alternative to the National Council for Civil Liberties that had temporarily become a Communist Front organisation refusing to help anarchists."
All the best,
Yes, Augustus John was a famous artist who had some similarities to Orwell regarding the anarchist movement. See a review of the biography Augustus John, 1878-1961 written with a particular focus on his connection with the anarchist movement, including his last stand at Trafalgar Square when he was 83 years old (a place close to Orwell's heart and where his description of sleeping there with the down-and-outs in A CLERGYMAN'S DAUGHTER is considered one of his best pieces of descriptive writing).
Both Orwell and John - although disagreeing with anarchists' pacifism during WWII - were friends of anarchists and contributed to the establishment and continuation of the Freedom Defence Committee which was a creation of dedicated anarchists, including one of Orwell's good friends George Woodcock. See ORWELL'S CRYSTAL SPIRIT POEM.
The best photos the world is blessed with of Orwell were taken by full-fledged anarchist and Freedom Press founder Vernon Richards in 1946. In 1998 those photos and essays by Richards and other anarchists were compiled into a book and published by Freedom Press: GEORGE ORWELL AT HOME (front and back covers scanned above).
A precise explanation of Orwell's relationship with anarchism is found near the end of the book on pages 71-72:
"...When the Freedom Press was raided at the end of 1944 and four editors of War Commentary were prosecuted at the beginning of 1945 for attempting "to undermine the affections of members of His Majesty's Forces", Orwell not only protested, but became vice-chairman of the Defence Committee, which was established because the National Council for Civil Liberties was then a Communist front. The committee chairman was Herbert Read and the secretary was George Woodcock. The latter recorded that Orwell, then becoming increasingly ill, contributred time and money as well as his name. Over a period of four years he signed letters, wrote articles and made speeches for it, and also lent it his wife's typewriter. He later became involved in a more ambitous attempt to establish a 'League for the Dignity and Rights of Man' with Arthur Koestler and Bertrand Russell, which came to nothing (though some of its ideas were later taken up by the Congress of Cultural Freedom and Amnesty International).
"The point of course is that Orwell genuinely believed in the freedom of the press and of speech and assembly not only for people he agreed with but for people he disagreed with. This extended not only to anarchists and pacifists but also to Fascists and Communists. But he never wrote for Fascist or Communist papers, whereas during and after the war he did occasionally write for anarchist papers - an essay on 'Looking Back on the Spanish War' in Alex Comfort's magazine New Road (June 1943), a review of W. McCartney's pamphlet The French Cooks' Syndicate in Freedom (September 1945), and the essay 'How the Poor Die' in George Woodcock's magazine Now (November 1946). It is not surprising that when the Freedom Defence Committee was disolved in 1949, Orwell let the Freedom Press keep the old typewriter (which was sometimes rumoured to be the one on which Freedom was later typeset!)..." [end quoting from George Orwell at Home]
I have actually seen Vernon Richards' photos on the wall in Orwell's very home where he posed for them when I went to 27B CANONBURY SQUARE.
They're on the wall to the right of Orwell's bedroom - and just outside his study/workshop - and are a permanent memorial to George Orwell and must stay with the flat forever. Whoever lives in the flat must never remove them (except to paint or wallpaper, after which they must go back up). I took the photo while standing inside Orwell's study/workshop. There are eight altogether. They are the most famous of all the photos of Orwell and duplicates of them appear in most of the biographies. They were taken by his friend from the Freedom Defense League, Vernon Richards. Most of them depict Orwell in different poses, alone or with Richard, inside and outside Canonbury Square.
Below is a scan of the introductory page of GEORGE ORWELL AT HOME, describing how the photos came to be taken:
"George Orwell disliked being photographed. This exlains why the series of photographs made by Vernon Richards early in 1946 is unique in showing him engaged in characteristic activities in the domestic surroundings of his rented third-floor flat at 27b Canonbury Square, Islington, in North London.
"Orwell and his wife, Eileen O'Shaughnessy, moved there late in 1944, bringing Richard, their adopted son. The boy had been born in May that year and was adopted in June, the month when a flying-bomb* brought down the roof of their previous flat at 10a Mortimer Crescent, Kilburn. In March 1945 Elieen died under the anaesthetic for what was expected to be a routine operation. In August, Animal Farm was, at long last, published a few days after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"Vernon Richards was released from prison in November 1945, following the trial on charges of sedition of the editors of War Commentary. He and Marie Louise Bernerj photographed Orwell soon afterwards, both at their own flat and at Orwell's, but most of these images belong to one visit, attempting to record the characteristic Orwell, worrying at his typewriter, or at his carpentry bench making a toy for Richard, dressing the boy for an outing, rolling his cigarettes from what George Woodcock remembered as "the strongest black shag that he could find", or making tea for his visitors..."[end quoting from George Orwell at Home]
*Orwell nicknamed them doodlebugs. See ZOOM-ZOOM DOODLEBUG BOOM
All the best,
ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER MY GRANDFATHER'S and ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER A REMINGTON
ORWELL'S PERSONA and ORWELL DEFINITIVE OBITUARY
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