Why Eileen Matters (II)

Three Orwell Relatives Speak Out About the Importance of Eileen

The second is Quentin Kopp

Unbound ETMOO

My family is closely connected to Eileen through her brother’s marriage to my Aunt, Dr. Gwen (Hunton) O’Shaughnessy. There have been many wonderful biographies of Orwell. There is a common feature of them all, which is that they have paid little attention to Eileen and the impact she had on Eric Blair, the man, and George Orwell, the author.

     My Mother, Doreen Hunton, who married Georges Kopp, Orwell’s Commander in Spain, often spoke about Eileen. In addition to saying what a warm, friendly and very intelligent person she was, she spoke about her influence, in particular on the genesis of Animal Farm as an allegory. She also spoke about her influence on the development of Orwell’s rightly lauded plain clear English. Orwell is noted as the master of expressing complex ideas in accessible English.

     My aunts and family friends who visited the family home on Croom’s Hill, Greenwich, all spoke about the warmth of the welcome and the lively conversations they had with Eileen, who spent a lot of time there, both before and after her marriage.

     Sylvia Topp’s biography addresses these points and fills the gaps left by Orwell’s biographers. More than that, Sylvia’s indefatigable research over several years has uncovered all sorts of fascinating information of relevance to Orwell as well herself and her family’s history. Echoing my Mother, I would say that it is not possible to gain a full understanding of Orwell without understanding Eileen and her impact upon him as a person and an Author.


Quentin Kopp’s Aunt Gwen was married to Eileen’s brother, Eric O’Shaughnessy. Quentin was born in 1947, and his father, Georges Kopp, was Orwell’s commander in Spain



Eileen: The Making of Orwell, by Sylvia Topp, is a work to be published by crowd-funding. It is close to its total (in mid-April).

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