Diaries by George Orwell (Edited by Peter Davison) - review by Jonathan Derbyshire

Jonathan Derbyshire

Down & Out



Harvill Secker 520pp £20 order from our bookshop

When he reviewed Nineteen Eighty-Four for the New Statesman, V S Pritchett identified among the sources of George Orwell's ‘material’ not just the depredations of Stalinist terror, but also the ‘seediness of London in the worst days of the war’ – the ‘pockets of 19th-century life in decaying England, the bad flats, bad food, the whining streak of domestic sluttishness which have sickened English satirists since Smollett’. 

In fact, as these newly published Diaries remind us, Orwell's fascination with the grime and filth of English life long pre-dated the privations of wartime. Peter Davison's scrupulously edited and handsomely produced edition, which covers an eighteen-year period ending in 1949, just before Orwell's death from tuberculosis in

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Art of Darkness

Cambridge, Shakespeare

Follow Literary Review on Twitter