Letter to John Lehmann (July 1940)

18 Dorset Chambers
Chagford Street
Ivor Place NW1

6 July 1940

Dear Lehmann,

John Lehmann (1907-1987)

John Lehmann founded New Writing and The London Magazine

Thanks for your two letters, which arrived in one envelope. I am very sorry I have written nothing for you after promising I would. I began something, then the war started to get serious. I just can’t write with this kind of thing going on. I have written nothing except book reviews etc. for a long time past, and also my time has been rather filled up with helping with the L.D.V.1 What is so terrible about this kind of situation is to be able to do nothing. The govt won’t use me in any capacity, not even a clerk, and I have failed to get into the army because of my lungs. It is a terrible thing to feel oneself useless and at the same time on every side to see halfwits and profascists filling important jobs. However, things are moving a little. I was informed at the W.O.2 that it is no longer held against a man to have fought in the Spanish civil war. Of course you can use the elephant sketch again if you like. Two guineas would be very handsome. As to the photo referred to in your other letter, does it have to be a real portrait or will a snap do? I don’t photograph well as a rule. The enclosed was taken for a carte d’identité or something and is a very good likeness, but I don’t know whether it would enlarge. In case I have to be properly photographed my address is as above, at any rate for the next week or so. I have been living in London because I am now doing theatre criticism for Time & Tide.

George Orwell

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  1. The Local Defence Volunteers, which later became the Home Guard, consisted of civilians formed into military detachments against the possibility of invasion.
  2. War Office.

Source: CEJL2-10

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