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Blog Archives

Writer’s Study: George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reviews Orwell’s early novel about the struggles of the writer

Depending on your tastes, you can blame or congratulate George Orwell for Wetherspoons. When Tim Martin founded his chain of British pubs in the late 1970s, he took as his inspiration – a sort of unofficial literary blueprint, if you will – an essay of Orwell’s, ‘The Moon under Water’, published in the London Evening Standard in 1946. To this day, a number of Wetherspoon pubs are named The Moon under Water in honour of Orwell’s think piece, including the one in my hometown, Milton Keynes.

Although principally known for his last two novels about totalitarianism, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and for his political essays about big questions surrounding nationalism, fascism, and Communism, George Orwell also wrote well about petty poverty, the writer’s life (see his ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’, also from 1946), and the English obsession with money, usually with having too little of it. Read the rest of this entry

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Warren Adler: On Orwell’s ‘Why I Write’

By Warren Adler

People often ask, and I ask myself on a daily basis, why I have spent more than six decades writing novels, short stories, essays, poems, plays and occasional reportage, continuing to ply this obsession into the cusp of my dotage.

My answer to others and especially to myself never seems quite adequate. Whether I take the high road proclaiming the need to find artistic and aesthetic truth in the human condition or the low road of pure egoism, I sound like either a pompous ass or a mere poseur. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Ernest Bramah

A short biography of writer Ernest Bramah

1. Ernest Bramah created a detective whose popularity rivalled that of Sherlock Holmes. Bramah (1868-1942) created Max Carrados, a popular sleuth whose adventures appeared in The Strand magazine, which also published Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The complete adventures of Max Carrados, a blind detective who can nevertheless solve crimes thanks to his extraordinary skills at reading things with his fingers and paying attention to the sounds that other people overlook, have recently been reprinted as The Eyes of Max Carrados (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural). Carrados first appeared in 1914 and over the next decade his short stories had many readers in Britain gripped. They still stand up well now. Read the rest of this entry