To Orwell Today,

Dear Sir/madam,

George Orwell's birthplace in India has been rescued from ruin. I'm trying to obtain photographs and I hope you are able to help. Please can you let me know if you can send images or point me in the direction of someone that can?

Thanks in advance,
ZoŽ Holtermann
The Times news picture desk

Greetings Zoe,

I assume your request for photos is in response to yesterday's December 27, 2009 news that the government of Bihar has granted the Motihari house protected status and will be restoring the building and developing the site. See INDIA PROTECTS ORWELL BIRTHPLACE

I've not personally been to Motihari, but a reader, Clive Collins, was there in March 2008 and sent images which you are free to use and cite the source. See VISITING ORWELL'S BIRTHPLACE.

Yard Right House Fence House Birth House Bedroom

It has long been a dream of my ORWELL TODAY readers that there be a SHRINE TO ORWELL in Motihari, Bihar, India.

It is fitting - and Orwellian - that photos and stories about this happy event will be published in The Times, the newspaper for which Orwell's greatest hero - Winston Smith - wrote in "1984".

All the best,
Jackie Jura

16.Ministry of Truth (... Winston worked in the RECORDS DEPARTMENT (a single branch of the Ministry of Truth) editing and writing for The Times. He dictated into a machine called a speakwrite.... When his day's work started, Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. He dialed 'back numbers' on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of The Times, which slid out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes' delay....)

To Orwell Today,

Thank you Jackie.

-Zoe Holtermann

Greetings again Zoe,

I see mention of the photos from ORWELL TODAY in The Times article just now published announcing India's plans to renovate the house and turn it into a museum. So glad they could be of help:

by Jeremy Page in Delhi
The Times, Dec 29, 2009

Until recently few residents of Motihari district in eastern India had ever heard of George Orwell, let alone his most famous literary works, Animal Farm and 1984. Few could read and fewer still spoke English, so the house where he was born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, had fallen into disrepair and was occupied mostly by stray animals.

Now the local authorities are renovating the building and converting it into a museum to try to attract more tourists to Bihar, one of the poorest and most populous Indian states. "The house is in a dilapidated condition," Vivek Singh, Biharís culture secretary, told the Press Trust of India. "The state governmentís priority is to protect the building. The process will take around three months. Given the importance attached to the house we will be more than willing to declare it a protected site.Ē

Orwell was born in Motihari while his father, Richard W. Blair, was working for the opium department of the British Indian Government. Motihari was a leading production centre for the opium that Britain exported, mostly to China. The author is one of hundreds of famous Britons born in India but is among the first to be honoured with a tourist site. The former homes of others have been destroyed or forgotten mostly because of a lack of state resources since independence in 1947. Orwell's house was saved mainly by the local Rotary Club and a few British enthusiasts, including Clive Collins, a retired literary professor and his wife, Monica. In a letter to the Orwell Today website Mr Collins described finding the Blair family bungalow and an adjacent former opium warehouse.

"The bungalow, externally at least, is probably very little changed from the time when the baby Eric Blair was born there in 1903. The only obvious difference was the tuk-tuk [motor rickshaw] parked inside the gate," he wrote. "On the grassy area outside cows, goats, dogs and pigs wandered about ó quite appropriate for the author of Animal Farm.

"I would urge all Orwell fans to make the pilgrimage. The more people visit, the more it will help to encourage the local authorities to make the site better known." He offered to buy the house and make it a tourist site. The authorities rejected the offer but explored ways to do the same work themselves.

They hope that the site will help to attract Indian and foreign visitors to the area, which is also where Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian independence leader, began a campaign to stop the British forcing farmers to grow opium. Orwell moved from India to Britain when he was 1. He tried to return by applying to join the Indian Imperial Police Force in 1921 but was posted to Burma instead ó reportedly because of his sympathy for the Indian independence movement.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Orwell birthplace to be restored (priority to protect it followed by renovation). NewYorkTimes, Dec 31, 2009

India gov't saving Orwell's birthplace from decay (Orwell had India in his blood). AFP, Dec 29, 2009

George Orwell birthplace is saved from becoming an animal farm (birthplace photos on Orwell Today website), The Times, Dec 29, 2009

George Orwell's birthplace aims to attract tourists. Telegraph, Dec 28, 2009

Govt declares Orwell's house in Bihar as protected site. Press Trust of India, Dec 28, 2009

Orwell house to get protected status. Calcutta Telegraph, Dec 27, 2009

George Orwell & India ("I am an Indian and was born there"). Maddy's Ramblings

ORWELL'S REFLECTIONS ON GANDHI (wrote admiringly of Indian independence leader; "but sainthood a thing human beings must avoid"). George Orwell, 1949

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

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com