ORWELL 1984 FLAT FOR SALE
To Orwell Today,
re: ex-home and inspiration of Orwell in St John's Wood
I currently [May 2005] live at 111 Langford Court, St John's Wood and am now in the process of trying to sell my flat. Do you have any ideas as to where I should advertise this sale (ex-home and inspiration of Orwell) eg fan sites/collectors etc??
I'd really appreciate any advice that you can give me.
I'll post your information on the website and if someone is interested they'll no doubt get in touch. Actually, I was a Real Estate Agent at one time but who would ever have imagined that one day I'd be involved in the sale of a flat (or maybe THE flat) in the very building Orwell had partially in mind when writing "1984", one of the most important books of the 20th century.
I was actually just recently trying to form a mental picture of Winston's flat because I am in the process of listening to "1984" on booktape in the car. I'm just at the point where Winston has subconsciously written DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER in his beautiful new diary and there's a knock on the door.
This is at the very beginning of "1984" when we are first introduced to Winston as he arrives at his block of flats, Victory Mansions, during his lunch break from the Ministry of Truth.
His description of the building and the flat is a combination of Langford Court in St John's Wood and the block of flats in Canonbury Square, Islington.
It is your building in St John's Wood that Orwell is mainly describing in the opening pages of "1984" because Winston was able to walk to it from work during his lunch break. The building that Orwell modelled the Ministry of Truth on is the University of London's Senate House building which was the location of the Ministry of Information during the war years when Orwell and his wife Eileen lived at Langford Court.
Orwell was a stay-at-home writer at that time, and Eileen was working at the Ministry of Truth (Information) and used to come home at lunchtime and make him something to eat. She was an excellent cook and she was conscious of creating healthy food for Orwell because she knew he needed it to stay healthy, as he was a very ill man even at this time in their lives. Her brother, a tuberculosis specialist, had advised her on Orwell's need for good food, fresh air, rest etc. Eileen knew that if she didn't come home at lunch and make it for Orwell he would work right through and not eat.
It's the Langford Court flat Orwell has in mind when he describes the hallway smelling of boiled cabbage because during the time that Orwell lived there the building was comprised mainly of European immigrants escaping from war-torn Europe, and cabbage was a big part of their diet.
It is also Langford Court that Orwell has in mind when he describes the elevator because his Canonbury Square flat didn't have an elevator. But his walk up the stairs, because the elevator didn't work, was based on Canonbury Square where he used to take a breath on each landing. I've been in that building and in Orwell's flat:
It is Langford Court Orwell has in mind when he describes how he can see the Ministry of Truth towering vast and white above the grimy landscape. To this very day, from the roof of Langford Court, a person can see the Ministry of Truth (UCL Senate House). It's no longer the tallest building in London, as it was during the time Orwell wrote "1984".
It is the window of his flat in Langford Court that Winston is looking out from when the police patrol helicopter swoops down to snoop in people's windows, and from where he can see the torn poster of Big Brother flapping in the vile wind.
When I was in London doing my tour of Orwell's haunts I didn't have time to go to all of his apartments and sacrificed Langford Court to go see 27B Canonbury Square. But next time I am in London I plan to go see it.
That's one of the great things about Orwell's books. They are so auto-biographical that a person can actually go see the real thing they picture in their mind while they're reading.
All the best in the sale of your flat. Even if it's not actually the one Orwell lived in, it's still in the same building and that in itself is quite the attraction.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, 2005
PS - When the island of Jura needed a doctor I posted the request and did get some response. Eventually, Jura got inundated with doctors applying for the position which had gone wanting for ages before. I don't think it was one of "my" candidates that was eventually successful but still, I like to think that I had a small part to play in the promotion of the position.
...ORWELL'S LANGFORD COURT FLAT (virtual Open House)
Reader Amber is writing a university paper and wants to cite sources for info on Orwell's Langford Court flat in London
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