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Letter from Rayner Heppenstall to Orwell

Rayner Heppenstall pulls out of visiting George Orwell on Jura.

BBC ARCHIVE
WRITTEN DOCUMENT
1946


8th July, 1946.

Dear Eric,

The reason why I have had to cancel this excursion is that I am committed to a
programme whose protagonist cannot otherwise be seen before I go on leave which
takes me to the end of August. I am extremely sorry that I shall not see you
or see where you are living and what you are doing. At the same time, I have
to confess that on one or two scores, I have felt a sense of relief since I
sent off that telegram on Saturday. One is that I am feeling so extremely
fragile that the journey itself had begun to appal me. Another as you may
guess is the prospect that lay before me of fruitless arguments with Potts in
the attempt to convince him that I lay outside his classification of the
world into those who are for and those who are against Potts - that, in
particular, I don't much care who writes for radio so long as I get a good
script now and then from any source whatever. But I spare you further
arabesques on this theme.

Is it now time that I can commission your Imaginary Conversations between
election candidates? Have any of your other suggestions ripened. Hav (sic)
you, for instance a favourite Canterbury tale? There is a suggestion that
these should be dramatized consecutively for the new programme.

I heard only last week about "Animal Farm" being the book of the month in the
United States. Henry Reed was in the publisher's office when the news came in.
I gathered Frank Morley had previously submitted a report to the effect that
"Animal Farm" would never do for the American public. This is wonderful news
of course. It means, doesn't it, that you can now take a really substantial
break from Journalism.

I have not heard from Susan. I hope she gets there with no more than
reasonable discomfort and fatigue and that Richard is well. When are you to be
seen again in the time-kept city?

Yours ever,

George Orwell, Esq.,
Barnhill,
Isle of Jura,
Argyllshire.

JS

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Document Type | Audience Reaction Report

08 July 1946

Document version

Writtenin

1946

Synopsis

Rayner Heppenstall clarifies why he has decided not to visit Jura after sending a telegram informing Orwell of his change of mind. Clearly Avril, Orwell's sister, was not alone in finding Paul Potts difficult to get on with. Heppenstall also congratulates Orwell on his critical success with 'Animal Farm' in the USA.

Did you know?

Orwell finished writing 'Animal Farm' in 1944, but had difficulties finding a publisher as it attacked communism under Stalin and the USSR was at that point a wartime ally of Britain. The novel was eventually published after the war by Fred Warburg in Britain and Harcourt Brace in the USA, where - as Heppenstall points out - it was selected by the 'Book of the Month Club' and sold over 250,000 copies.

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