CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Hopes for new Orwell play about life in South End Green

Writer worked in bookshop at junction of South End Green and Pond Street

20 August, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

The South End Green’s Brian Kettell is spearheading project 

GEORGE Orwell’s life as a struggling writer in South End Green is set to be the topic of a new play.

The South End Green Association (SEGA) this week has announced it hopes to commission the production with a view to it being performed as part of the Camden Fringe Festival next summer.

SEGA committee member Brian Kettell said he hoped playwrights draw on Orwell’s life in the area at a pivotal moment in his career.

He said: “We’d like to put on a play about Orwell’s life here. There is plenty of material to draw on, from his novels to an article he penned called Memories of Life in a Book Shop.”

Orwell lived at 77 Parliament Hill, and also Warwick Mansions, Pond Street, during the mid- 1930s.

It was during this time that he penned Keep The Aspidistra Flying, which has many autobiographical references. The novel’s hero, Gordon Comstock, makes numerous asides that link the story to where Orwell lived, including the clock above the White Horse pub, Keats Grove, Willoughby road and Book Lovers Corner.

Orwell also worked at Book Lovers Corner, a bookshop on the corner of South End Road and Pond Street. This part- time job left his afternoons free to concentrate on honing his craft, as well as giving him access to reading material and serving literary customers, some of whom he liked, others he looked not so kindly on.

Mr Kettell added: “South End Green was an important place for Orwell and we’d like to highlight that in the work.

“He met the Day of the Triffids author John Wyndham, who also lived here at the book shop. He would walk over the Heath and was inspired by the natural world in his work. It was also here that he met and courted his wife, Eileen. All played a role in his intellectual development.”

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