by Sylvia Topp
4 March 2021
This is the never-before-told story of George Orwell's first wife, Eileen, a woman who shaped, supported, and even saved the life of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. In 1934, Eileen O'Shaughnessy's futuristic poem, 'End of the Century, 1984', was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party.
'Now that is the kind of girl I would like to marry!' he remarked that night. Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in ways that have never been acknowledged by history, until now. From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, to the couple's narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of a baby boy, Eileen is the first account of the Blairs' nine-year marriage.
It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and '40s. Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.