Letter to James Hanley from Eric Blair in Alcubierre (February 1937)

[c. 10 February 1937]1
Juventud Communist Iberica,
Monte Oscurio
Alcubierre, Huesca
Commandante Kopp.2

Dear Mr Hanley,3

Portrait of novelist James Hanley (1897-1985)

James Hanley (1897-1985)

Many thanks for your letter. I dare say my wife has already acknowledged it, as it reached me open & she is dealing with my correspondence while I am away. I’m sorry I cannot write much of a letter—I am not in very comfortable circumstances here—but anyway it was kind of you to write & I am glad you found the book4 interesting. It is due out about March 10th I believe, but I shall probably still be in the line here when it comes out, so shan’t know how it gets on. Gollancz thought parts of it might give offence in certain quarters but that it was worth risking.

Yours sincerely
Eric Blair (“George Orwell”)

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Notes:

  1. This postcard is franked ‘Valencia 13.11.37.’
  2. George(s) Kopp (1902-1951), Russian by birth, Belgian by nationality, was Orwell’s commander in Spain. He was a civil engineer but also something of an imposter. After World War II he farmed in Scotland and in 1944 married Doreen Hunton, Eileen’s sister-in- law, Gwen O’Shaugnessy’s half-sister. He died in Marseilles.  Although Orwell and Kopp remained friends, their relationship cooled in the late 1940s. Doreen Kopp wrote to Ian Angus, 29 April 1967, that when Orwell joined her husband’s company, ‘he was very intrigued to find one Englishman who described himself as a “grocer”. He was anxious to meet an English grocer wishing to fight in Spain! It was of course very typical of George as he always wanted to be taken for a working man.’
  3. James Hanley (1897-1985) was the author of upwards of fifty books, eighteen by this time. The first was Drift (1930).  His second book, Boy, was published in expurgated and unexpurgated editions in 1931. In 1935 the first volume of The Furys Chronicle appeared, and in 1937 Broken Water: An Autobiographical Excursion, reviewed by Orwell in Time and Tide. His Grey Children: A Study in Humbug and Misery was concerned with unemployment among miners in South Wales, and was reviewed by Orwell in Time and Tide.
  4. The Road to Wigan Pier, published on 8 March 1937.

Source: CW11-359

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