The first biography of George Orwell’s wife Eileen, the woman who supported him in Spain and to whom (during another war) he read aloud Animal Farm as he wrote it, is launched. Sylvia Topp was encouraged to begin her investigations by Christopher Hitchens as she describes below.
Eileen: The Making of Orwell, Sylvia Topp’s biography of Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, is now available for advance purchase on the Unbound website.
When Sylvia first fell in love with Orwell, she quickly realized there was very little information about his somewhat forgotten wife. She asked Christopher Hitchens, a fellow Orwell admirer and co-worker at Vanity Fair, if a book on Eileen existed. “I’m pretty sure that field is clear; what an excellent idea,” Hitchens said. Sylvia endeavored to write the book that Eileen’s life deserves.
Eileen: The Making of Orwell is the never before told story of the woman who recognized Orwell’s genius before almost anyone else had. Eileen’s whimsical sense of humour, her ability to match Orwell intellectually, and her absolute devotion to helping him develop his talent and promote his career helped shape one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. This is the first book on this extraordinary woman who has been until now unjustly overlooked. It examines the Blairs’ nine-year marriage, the partnership that produced some of the greatest works in English literature. The year before she met Orwell, Eileen had published a futuristic poem called “End of the Century, 1984.” Later, George would name his greatest work 1984 in homage to the memory of Eileen.
Eileen: The Making of Orwell is a vivid picture of bohemianism, poverty, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 30s and 40s, with an undertow of sadness. This touching story offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself.
Eileen can be ordered here.