ORWELL (GEORGE) Autograph letter signed ("George Orwell"), to the novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Mr Powell"), apologising for not having thanked him earlier for his letter [praising Keep the Aspidistra Flying], The Stores, Wallington, Near Baldock, Hertfordshire, 8 June 1936
Lot 309
ORWELL (GEORGE)
Autograph letter signed ("George Orwell"), to the novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Mr Powell"), apologising for not having thanked him earlier for his letter [praising Keep the Aspidistra Flying], The Stores, Wallington, Near Baldock, Hertfordshire, 8 June 1936
Sold for £7,500 (US$ 9,881) inc. premium

Lot Details
BOOKS AND LETTERS FROM THE LIBRARY OF ANTHONY POWELL
ORWELL (GEORGE)
Autograph letter signed ("George Orwell"), to the novelist Anthony Powell ("Dear Mr Powell"), apologising for not having thanked him earlier for his letter [praising Keep the Aspidistra Flying] ("...Yes, the reviews were awful, so much so that in a general way I prefer the ones who lose their temper & call me names to the silly asses who mean so well & never bother to discover what you are writing about..."), as well as for a copy of Caledonia ("...I liked the latter very much. It is so rare now a days to find anyone hitting back at the Scotch cult. I am glad to see you make the point of calling them 'Scotchmen', not 'Scotsmen' as they like to be called. I find it a good way of annoying them..."), 1 page, in fine, fresh condition, 4to, The Stores, Wallington, Near Baldock, Hertfordshire, 8 June 1936

Footnotes

  • 'YES, THE REVIEWS WERE AWFUL' – GEORGE ORWELL TO ANTHONY POWELL ON KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING.

    The novel had been published by Gollancz on 20 April. Although Orwell (or Blair, as he was then) and Powell had been at Eton together, Powell did not remember him. Both however had stayed in contact with another contemporary, Cyril Connolly, and it was he who suggested Powell write the fan letter to which this is Orwell's response. Powell also admired Down and Out in London and Paris: 'I read Orwell's book, and was impressed by its savagery and gloom, but cannot claim to have marked down the writer immediately as one we should hear a great deal more of; still less, that here was someone who would become a close friend. A year or two later, seeing Keep the Aspidistra Flying in a secondhand bookshop, I bought it. Again I liked the novel for its violent feelings, and presentation of a man at the end of his tether, rather than for form or style, both of which seemed oddly old-fashioned in treatment, as did many of the views expressed in the story. I spoke of the book dining one night with Connolly in about 1936... Connolly gave a sobering account of Orwell, his rigid asceticism, political intransigence, utter horror of all social life. Connolly emphasised Orwell's physical appearance, the lines of suffering and privation marking his hollow cheeks. The portrait was a disturbing one. Connolly was at the same time enthusiastic about Orwell. He urged me to write a fan letter. This I did, thereby making my first Orwell contact fifteen years after he had himself left Eton. Connolly's picture of a severe unapproachable infinitely disapproving personage was not altogether dispelled by the reply I received to my letter. Orwell, with his first wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy, was at that time running a small general shop near Baldock in Hertfordshire. His answer, perfectly polite and friendly, had also about it something that cast a faint chill, making me feel, especially in the light of Connolly's words, that Orwell was not for me. I was so sure of this that, when the opportunity arose of meeting him in the flesh, I was at first unwilling to involve myself in so much frugal living and high thinking; more especially in wartime, when existence was uncomfortable enough anyway. This was in 1941' (To Keep the Ball Rolling, 1983 edition, p. 66).

    Caledonia was a verse pastiche in the eighteenth century manner, with a section of Scotland's music contributed by Constant Lambert, of which a few copies, bound in tartan boards and with a frontispiece by Edward Burra, were run off to celebrate Powell's wedding late in 1934; unfortunately 'the printer was somewhat given to the bottle, and Caledonia, a treasure-house of long forgotten topical references, is also notable for its misprints' (ibid., p. 210).

    This, and the following letters (although not the postcard), are published in The Complete Works of George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison (1986–98).
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