The owner and editor of The Observer, David Astor, was friends with George Orwell. Astor has an amazing ability to identify people with the gift of journalism and a knack for conjuring high-quality work from the contributors to his Newspaper. He and Orwell worked together for seven years in the 1940s during the transformation of this newspaper.

This remarkable period in British history happened to occur at the same time the Observer was undergoing a Phenomenal change as well. This led to the publication of Orwell’s last piece of journalistic work for the Observer during the last ten years of his life: The Observer Years (Atlantic Books, £12, pp242), a collection of the 100 articles Orwell had written for The Observer which once remarked of his old Etonian schoolfriend that ‘he could not blow his nose without moralising on the state of the handkerchief industry’.

Astor, less sardonic, simply responded to Orwell’s ‘absolute straightforwardness, his honesty and his decency’ and offered him a stage to exhibit his mature literary journalism which looking back in time is just awesome.

Orwell’s rebuking of the use of filthy, sloppy language is still taken very seriously.’