The Gollancz Orwell Archive

ORWELL, George

ORWELL, George The Gollancz Orwell Archive


The publisher's archive of papers relating to the publication of each of Orwell's books by his first publisher, Victor Gollancz, with the exception of Coming Up For Air (all the correspondence for which having been destroyed shortly after publication). In all some 200 documents, central to which are nineteen letters and three telegrams by Orwell, but also including four original signed contracts (one each of Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Inside the Whale and one for a three book deal covering, The Clergyman's Daughter, Burmese Days and Keep the Aspidistra Flying) as well as extensive correspondence between Gollancz and Leonard Moore (Orwell's agent) and Harold Rubenstein (Gollancz's solicitor) and various reader's reports and internal memos.

An extraordinary, comprehensive archive of correspondence between Eric Blair (George Orwell) and his publisher, regarding the writing and publishing of Orwell's books. Copies of all outgoing correspondence from Gollancz has been preserved in carbon providing a comprehensive epistolary narrative of the process of getting Orwell into print, from the initial approach from Moore introducing Orwell and his manuscript of Down and Out in Paris and London, through to Gollancz's ill fated decision to decline to publish Animal Farm. The nineteen letters from Orwell, discuss changes that need to be made to the manuscripts (Gollancz was notably cautious regarding libel). Throughout, one can chart an emboldening in Orwell's approach regarding what he was prepared to alter, his reasoning providing an insight into his creative process. The letters also discuss his work in general and touch on that of other contemporary authors (D.H.Lawrence, Henry Miller, Evelyn Waugh), his health and political views.

31 items, 3 May 1932–24 Sept 1972: initial approach letter from Orwell's agent Leonard Moore introducing the author and his manuscript; two readers' reports, one highly complimentary but warning of libel, the other less enthusiastic; letters between Gollancz and his lawyer and between Moore and Gollancz concerning libel and changes made to the text by the author; letter from Moore to Gollancz negotiating improved terms; the original contract signed by Orwell for publication of the book under the title "Days in London and Paris"; correspondence regarding the Orwell pseudonym, including a request for information on that subject from The Times; an intemperate exchange of letters and legal threats between Gollancz and a correspondent who claimed the book insulted Jews; correspondence concerning Gollancz's rescinding rights to the book in Dec 1938; later correspondence between Sonia Orwell and Gollancz concerning the Penguin edition, 1965; correspondence between Penguin and Gollancz in 1972, in which the latter admits they no longer possess the original manuscript or proofs.

30 items, 8 Nov 1934–5 Aug 1935: initial reader's report; Rubinstein's report on the book; correspondence between Gollancz and Moore regarding changes to the school section; Orwell's cover note to his corrected manuscript addressing Gollancz's concerns; correspondence between Gollancz and Rubinstein regarding potential libel; Orwell's defence of his manuscript against requests for additional changes; further correspondence, including a lengthy autograph letter by Orwell defending the book, a second, shorter letter from him on the same subject, and short notes back and forth on the same subject; the original contract signed by Orwell for publication of the book, offering Gollancz the option on his next two books.

34 items, 6 May 1933–6 Jul 1948: initial correspondence asking after the novel's progress; cover note for the manuscript; reader's report ("There is no doubt whatever about the merits of the book... It is brilliantly conceived and brilliantly written... a violent and wholesale attack on the character and methods of white people in the East"); letter from Gollancz to Moore turning down the novel on grounds of potential libel, followed a year later by another expressing second thoughts; Orwell's letter to Gollancz claiming that the original manuscript was destroyed, adding sardonically that his local library may have a copy; correspondence between Moore and Gollancz, sending the manuscript and Gollancz dithering before finally accepting it for publication; Gollancz refers the matter to Rubinstein and Orwell agrees to meet him; correspondence between Gollancz, Orwell, and Rubinstein concerning changes to the manuscript; correspondence confirming that Burmese Days is to be treated as the first option novel under the Clergyman's Daughter contract agreement; cover note sending Orwell a second impression of the book; correspondence from summer 1938 relating to the proposed Burmese edition; correspondence in Nov 1946 between Dr W. M. C. Harrowes, Victor Gollancz, and Orwell concerning the shadow the India Office cast over the novel; later correspondence between Gollancz and Christy & Moore concerning copy reviews of the books.

24 items, 16 Jan–11 Mar 1936: initial correspondence regarding the novel, including Gollancz's congratulatory letter to Orwell; correspondence with Rubinstein regarding libel issues; Orwell's response to Rubinstein's concerns; a second round of complaints from Rubinstein, to which Orwell replies noting the changes he has made to avoid mimicking real advertisements; increasingly fraught correspondence between Orwell and Gollancz, with three pages of Orwell's original manuscript showing the deletion of the phrase "Foul, bloody things", Orwell defending his portrayal of the bookshop owner as "not a portrait of any real person" and insisting on retaining the word "sod", citing Graves's use of it in Goodbye to All That; further correspondence on the latter subject, with Orwell refusing to change the word, but eventually yielding when told the book might be "banned by several of the larger circulating libraries" though claiming that the book had been ruined; correspondence between Gollancz and Moore and Gollancz and Rubinstein concerning the changes made to avoid resemblance to real advertisements and products and Orwell's continued opposition to making them.

56 items, 29 Oct 1936–27 Aug 1958: initial correspondence between Gollancz and Moore, mentioning the proposed title and suggesting it as a Left Book Club Choice; cover letter from Moore enclosing the original manuscript, asking that it be read soon as "Blair is planning to go to Spain"; Gollancz agrees to publish the book as a Left Book Club Choice, outside the terms of the three-book deal; Gollancz asks various people and organizations for photographs for the book; Rubinstein reads the book for libel; the original contract signed by Orwell for publication of the book; Moore complains to Gollancz that the News Chronicle has published significant portions of the book without paying royalties; typed letter from Orwell in Barcelona to Gollancz thanking him for writing the introduction to the book; correspondence concerning rights and Orwell's French translator; a long typed letter from Orwell to Gollancz denying accusations that he is a middle-class snob, asking Gollancz to intervene on his behalf, and threatening legal action against his detractors; various letters concerning rights to quote material from the book; later correspondence concerning the copyright in the photographs; correspondence with Sonia Orwell as the author's literary executor; letters of protest from Gollancz that Harcourts had reprinted Victor Gollancz's foreword without permission.

13 items, 1 Jan 1940–13 Oct 1966: first response from Victor Gollancz to Orwell, admiring the manuscript and asking to borrow Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, which he has never heard of; Orwell's reply, stating that the police have seized his copy, and discussing literature in general; correspondence between Rubinstein, Gollancz, and Orwell concerning the possibility of libelling Evelyn Waugh as having adopted Catholicism as a "profitable pose" and other legal matters; the original contract for the work signed by Orwell; correspondence from 1943 confirming Gollancz's retention of the rights; letters concerning the Penguin edition and Sonia Orwell's rights.

12 items, 19 Mar 1944–15 Feb 1950: typed letter signed from Orwell to Victor Gollancz offering him first refusal but warning him that the book is anti-Stalin; further correspondence in which Gollancz protests that he is being mischaracterised as a Stalinist stooge, is sent the manuscript, and then declines it ("I could not possibly publish... a general attack of this nature"); letter from Jonathan Cape checking that they are free to accept the book; correspondence from Victor Gollancz to Leonard Moore seeking to establish that the three-book contract is still operative; 1950 draft letter from Victor Gollancz to The Book- seller claiming that Orwell remained a Gollancz author, despite the rejection, and that he had an option on Nineteen Eighty- Four that he regretfully passed up at Orwell's personal request.

12 items, 2 Mar 1944–17 Jul 1967; correspondence between Gollancz and Leonard Moore about author rights and reprinting Orwell after the war ("As you know, I have the highest admiration for Orwell's work"); correspondence with a student concerning Orwell's "literary honesty" ("Incidentally, I think Orwell is enormously overrated", Gollancz blurts out); correspondence from 1966–7 with Sonia Orwell concerning archive material that she seeks from Gollancz's files and copy Orwell letters that she offers to exchange.

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