Events Overview

Orwell Society Events

The Society organises a mix of regular events, which are annual or bi-annual, with special events, which are often linked to a specific anniversary. These events are almost always supported by Orwell’s son Richard Blair, Patron of the Orwell Society.

Regular Events

Barnhill and Jura

These events are from a Friday to a Monday in mid June each even numbered year. We take fast rib boats to the Island and use them also to visit Barnhill and to circumnavigate the island of Jura. Richard Blair and the Fletcher family, who own Barnhill, show us around what was Richard’s childhood home. On the way around the island we get the opportunity to see wildlife, which has included sea eagles, seals and different species of deer. A highlight of each trip in addition to the visit to Barnhill, is Richard explaining at the location of the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, how he and his Father and cousins nearly drowned when their boat lost their motor.

The Spanish Civil War and Homage to Catalonia

On even number years in Mid May we visit Barcelona and Aragon to see the sites described in Homage to Catalonia. These include visits to key sites along the Ramblas and also the former Sanatori Maurin, which is now the Benjamin Franklin International School. Our tour is guided by an expert on Barcelona and the Spanish Civil War, Nick Lloyd, who is both a member and a resident in the City.

In Aragon we visit the trenches and see key sites such as the Ruta da Orwell visitor centre and La Granja where the “rats were as big as cats”. Our guide is the well known journalist and historian Victor Pardo Lancina who led the efforts to restore the trenches and create the visitor centre.

This dramatic tour takes place typically from a Wednesday to a Monday morning. In 2017 we will be taking an extra day, because the visit will include special items related to the 80th Anniversary of Orwell’s time in Spain.

Birthday celebration

On the nearest Sunday to the 25th June each year, we visit Sutton Courtenay, where Orwell is buried in the Church Yard of the Parish Church. We hold a joint event with the Church. The event is preceded by a walk beside the Thames and a pub lunch. At about 3pm Richard Blair reads a passage he has chosen for each year, followed by cream teas to support the Church’s event.

London and Paris Walks

We have had a walk in an Orwell related area of London since 2013. This year we extended it to a weekend event, by going to Paris for a second day. Each walk is led by a member, with London being led by Michael King and Paris by Richard Hallmark. These are stimulating events and include areas including Fitzrovia, Soho, and University College Senate House and Hospital. This year (2016) we went to Hampstead and Canonbury Square.

Other Society Events

Other events are scheduled often to coincide with a particular anniversary. For example, learning about the life and death of Orwell’s wife Eileen from her birth in South Shields to her death in Jesmond, Newcastle. We went there in 2015 for the 70th anniversary of her death.

We have also been to visit a Spike in Guildford, which is the last remaining one like those that Orwell described in Down and Out in Paris and London. This event was led by academic and member Luke Seaber.

Future Events

In March 2017 we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the publication of the The Road to Wigan Pier with a number of events in Wigan.

Conclusion

Some events are open to as many members as are able to come. Others, e.g. the large ones, are restricted, for instance by the numbers which can be transported, or by some other constraint. It always helps to respond quickly if you would like to come. All events have a warning email and other communication to members to forewarn them.

If you have an idea for an event please contact Events Secretary Quentin Kopp.