To Orwell Today,
Just been looking at your pages on Boxer the carthorse. I've just discovered that Orwell lived in Sheffield (UK) in 1936, within a few yards of where my grandfather and his entire extended family lived.
I am now wondering how coincidental it is that my grandfather's uncle owned a carthorse which he delivered coal to the surrounding area with. It was 17.6 hands tall, had a distinct white stripe on his face, and called Boxer.
I've done no further research tonight but intend to, and thought you may be able to point me in the right direction.
Orwell didn't actually live in Sheffield -- he just stayed there a short period of time while researching his book THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER about coal mining and the working class.
While in Sheffield Orwell stayed with a fellow-Socialist he'd met through the Independent Labour Party.
In a diary entry written May 6, 1936, Orwell described his time spent in Sheffield. The family he stayed with was "Searle" and it seems the address was "154 Wallace Road". Orwell says: "...They keep the house very clean and decent, have a bit of garden, though they can't do much with it, as it has factory chimneys on one side and the gas works on the other...".
If that address was on your grandfather's uncle's coal-delivery route then perhaps Orwell met him and his cart-horse, Boxer.
The places and characters of Orwell's books are always taken from his personal experience -- and are recognizable by people he came in contact with. Sometimes they are composites of more than one person or place.
All the best,
George Orwell's diary from his journey to Wigan, 1936, The Orwell Prize
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING WIGAN
1954 ANIMAL FARM HARDCOVER GIFT
ORWELL'S ANIMAL FARM PREFACE (...In my opinion, nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of Socialism as the belief that Russia is a Socialist country and that every act of its rulers must be excused, if not imitated. And so for the past ten years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the Socialist movement.... On my return from Spain I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages. However, the actual details of the story did not come to me for some time until one day (I was then living in a small village) I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart-horse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat....
DID BOXER HAVE A NAME?
BOXER AND THE PROLES
HORSE DEATH IN ANIMAL FARM
GRANDPARENTS' HORSES & HOMESTEAD
HORSE NOT DOG MAN'S BEST FRIEND
VISITING ORWELL'S ANIMAL FARM
ORWELL'S ANIMAL FARM
ORWELL'S WIGAN PIER
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