ORWELL'S DOPPELGANGER TYPEWRITER
To Orwell Today,
I'm a photographer and mostly work for private commissions from collectors, and sometimes institutions, but also like to follow my own nose on projects. I'm based in the UK and have recently started a project on writers, photographing pens belonging to writers such as Charles Dickens, (actually a quill), Lord Byron, TS Eliot, Jean Rhys, George Eliot and a couple of others held at the Royal Society of Literature in London. I'm now thinking about typewriters, and came across your site when trying to chase down Orwell's.
From another site it sounded as if his typewriter was lost when given by his wife to Tom McGrath. See The Strange Case of Orwell's Typewriter
But then I saw your photo of the typewriter in Jura, though sadly you captioned the photo with the word "symbolically". See VISITING ORWELL'S BARNHILL
So my question is do you think that this typewriter was ever used by George Orwell, or is it simply the symbol of what was?
If you could let me know I would be most grateful, you would save me quite the trip!
All my best wishes,
It was eighteen years ago -- in 2004 -- when I visited Scotland and snapped that photo of the typewriter in Orwell's upstairs room in Barnhill. I suspected, at the time, that it was just a prop because it looked too modern to be what Orwell would have used in the 40s (and even the 30s). And that's why I captioned it with the world "symbolic".
A year later, in response to a reader's question, I did a deep dive into a search for Orwell's typewriter and Eureka, I found it -- well, its doppelganger at least. It turned out that I, unbeknownst to myself, personally own the exact same model of typewriter that Orwell used -- a portable Remington. I inherited it from my grandfather when he died in 1987.
In 2009 I started a ritual on the website wherein every year, on Orwell's birthday - June 25th -- I'd type a page from one of his books on "his" typewriter. This past few years, since 2017, it seems I've been remiss. It's not that I haven't remembered Orwell's birthday (I always get a cake, take a pic, and blow out the candles) but for one reason (excuse) or another, I haven't done the typing. Now, with you having reminded me of the typewriter, I'll make sure to resurrect the ritural this year.
In that article you sent about "the strange case of Orwell's typewriter" it explains how it went missing and it wasn't discovered until years later that Orwell's wife Sonia had donated it to a cause she believed in. The article then went on to describe some disparaging stories some Orwell biographers have spread about Sonia over the years.
The photo of Sonia in that article came from my website and I'd come across it in The London Times that same summer I went to Barnhill in August 2004. It also had a photo of Orwell typing his will and told the amazing story of Sonia saving Orwell's estate from theft by a corrupt accountant. Later I read a book about Sonia -- THE GIRL FROM THE FICTION DEPARTMENT -- setting the record straight, written by a friend of hers.
I hope this helps in your quest to track down Orwell's typewriter to photograph it. I guess there's no need for a trip to Jura -- "a very ungettable place" -- because it isn't there.
All the best,
Jackie Jura, November 2022
...conversation continues at ORWELL WROTE 1984 IN PEN TOO
listen ORWELL FAN JURA ON JEFFRIES RADIO (a listener called in asking about rumours circulating about Sonia)
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING CLERGYMAN'S, typed June 25, 2017
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING ASPIDISTRA, typed June 25, 2014
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING WIGAN, typed June 25, 2013
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING CATELONIA, typed June 25, 2012
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING COMING UP, typed June 25, 2011
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING ANIMAL FARM, typed June 25, 2010
ORWELL BIRTHDAY TYPING 1984, typed June 25, 2009
ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER A REMINGTON
ORWELL'S TYPEWRITER MY GRANDFATHER'S
The Girl From The Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell, by Hilary Spurling, published 2002 (The negative portrait of George Orwell's second wife drawn by his biographers is a travesty. Determined to set the record straight, her friend, Hilary Spurling, herself an acclaimed biographer, reveals the whole story of Sonia Orwell's sad and splendid life....)
ORWELL A WRITER WRONGED
JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA and VISITING ORWELL'S BARNHILL
HOMAGE TO ORWELL and PILGRIMAGE TO ORWELL
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