To Orwell Today,


I am sorry to bother you with my question which is not perhaps relevant to your work. I have visited your website and I find it extremely interesting as I have been a great admirer of Orwell since I was sixteen. I used to know one of his best friends, Paul Potts. I met Sonia once at a literary soirée given by Peter Owen and she was very kind to me. She had considered my work for publication in …..

And this is my question. I have looked left and right on Internet and I can’t find any reference to the journal Sonia was editing or co-editing in Switzerland in the sixties. It had a huge reputation at that time and was available in London only at Zwemmer’s or Better Books! What is that journal called? Can you help? I am writing a series of memoirs on the fifties and the sixties in Soho and I should be grateful to you if you could fill in the gap.

Best wishes,
Taner Baybars

Greetings Taner,

That's amazing you were friends with Orwell's friend Paul Potts and you've met Orwell's second wife, Sonia. It would be interesting to hear details of your memories of them to share with "Orwell Today" readers.

It seems, from the link you sent, that you are an artist and a poet, which must be how you came to know Paul Potts and Sonia, he being a poet and she being a friend (and model) of many artists and poets and authors and an editor of their works.

I've looked through biographies of Orwell and his contempories at the time, including Cyril Connolly and Sonia, and haven't come across mention of her editing a journal in Switzerland during the 50s and 60s.

But she did do editing for a publisher in London during that time - George Weidenfeld - and an internet search shows that he published a journal from Switzerland entitled THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARTS, LITERATURE AND IDEAS which perhaps may be the one you're thinking of.

Actually, Sonia eventually quit working for Weidenfeld because he was having an affair with Cyril Connolly's wife, and it was Connolly who Sonia used to work for in his magazine HORIZON and it was Connolly who had introduced Sonia to Orwell - so her allegiance was more to Connolly than to Weidenfeld.

I did come across the name of a journal that Sonia edited in Paris for 18 months in the early 60s which was entitled ART AND LITERATURE and which was the French version of London's HORIZON (which had ceased to publish by that time).

All the best,
Jackie Jura




Reader Kevin enquires about Orwell biographies (...One of the stories in "Orwell Remembered" contains the remembrance of Paul Potts entitled "Quixote on a Bicycle" which is a chapter excerpted from his book "Dante Called You Beatrice" which I had searched for but never found. Paul Potts was a poverty-stricken Canadian poet who was a good friend of Orwell, having been invited to visit him on Jura (where he chopped down the only nut tree for firewood and was kicked out by Orwell's sister) and who was the last friend to see Orwell alive (stopped by his hospital room but he was sleeping so left a tea bag at the door)

To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

Thank you for taking the trouble to do all this. There are two people still alive who might give the answer to my question, and they are John Smith from the old Christie and Moore, Orwell’s first agents, and Peter Owen himself when he hasn’t imbibed so much champagne at the French. Sonia did edit or help to edit a magazine in Switzerland in the late fifties and early sixties, and your website might well throw some light on this. It was a one word title, beginning with S or H….

Of course, I would love to share my recollections of those times with your participants and what I propose to do, if you agree, is to send you each extract from my book in progress, Notes Without Queries, which is a collection of Reminiscences, Reflections and Regrets. There is a lot about the Soho of the fifties and the sixties.

Peter Owen invited me to a soirée to welcome Asturias whose book, The Mulatta and Mr Fly, had already published in 1963. As Owen published my own book in 1965, then the soirée must have taken place in 1966, and that’s where I met Sonia Orwell. Before the publication of my A Trap for the Burglar, my agent John Smith had approached Sonia in Switzerland, with chapters of that book and illustrations by Arthur Boyd, in the hope of having the material published in Ssss Hhhhh…. So, that was the right moment to meet the formidable editor, and we saw each other a few times afterwards. By the way, I wasn’t a painter at that time.

As to my friendship with Paul Potts…. That began very badly, he was irascible and almost fuming violent, racist, but with a very soft and generous heart, bearing the holes of many arrows of the past, (see Dante Called you Beatrice, Eyre & Spottiswoode) and our friendship endured until I left England in 1988. Paul was the guest of honour at my wedding party ( a very Bohemian affair ) in 1959, and he brought along Peter O’Toole, Peter Duval-Smith and Jill Neville with him…. More to follow.

Best of all good things,
Taner Baybars

Greetings Taner,

Perhaps, as you say, the website will throw some light and someone will write in with the name of the Swiss journal edited by Sonia, beyond the letters "S" or "H".

Meanwhile, I look forward to receiving extracts from your book pertaining to recollections of Sonia or Paul Potts.

I have a copy of Paul Pott's essay about his friendship with Orwell, entitled "Don Quixote On A Bicycle", which is a chapter from his book "Dante Called You Beatrice". When I get a chance I'll share excerpts with readers.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~