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ORWELL, George.

Archive of retained correspondence from the files of his first publisher, Victor Gollancz.

20 November 1940-17 Jul 1967 Stock Code: 131761
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Orwell and his publisher

A collection of documents from the archive of Victor Gollancz, the first publisher of George Orwell, regarding the publication of his books. The archive of Victor Gollancz was sold by the firm's parent company in recent years, from whom the material was directly acquired. The contents include carbon copies of letters sent from Gollancz to Orwell and his literary executor Leonard Moore in November 1940 asking if future novels will be forthcoming, and company records regarding the print status of the books. Of note is that in a preserved carbon copy of a letter to Moore, regarding the possibilities of publishing new editions after the war, Gollancz states that he has the "highest admiration for Orwell's work"; however, in a 1956 reply to a college student asking for anecdotes of Orwell, Gollancz says that "Incidentally, I think Orwell is enormously over-rated" - an astonishing admission by the man who brought Orwell to print, established his reputation, and brought his works to a wide left-wing audience. Also included is a copy of a document dated 12 June 1950, recording that the literary executors of Orwell's estate after his death was now A. C. Heath & Company, and letters from Orwell's widow Sonia Orwell requesting copies of any Orwell correspondence that Gollancz has. Finally, there is a torn photograph, seemingly of Orwell in the 1930s.

Full list of contents:

1. Carbon from Gollancz to Orwell, 20 November 1940, asking whether a new novel is upcoming.

2. Carbon from Gollancz to Moore, 21 November 1940, asking the same.

3. Letter from Moore to Gollancz, 2 March 1944, asking for the print status of various books, including Orwell's.

4. Internal slip from Dorothy Horsman to Victor Gollancz, 3 March 1944, providing the print run details of the novels.

5. Carbon response from Gollancz to Moore, 7 March 1944; he says he would like to reprint Orwell, but there are many books in the backlog during the war, and his market may be too limited. He offers to Moore that he can seek other publishers, but give Gollancz the right to print an edition before any other publishers do.

6. Copy of reply from Moore, 17 March 1944, agreeing to the terms.

7. Copy of letter, 12 June 1950, alerting Gollancz that A. M. Heath & Company have been appointed as agents for Orwell's literary estate.

8. Letter to Gollancz from the college student Claude A. Offenbacher, 23 March 1944, requesting source material so that he can evaluate Orwell's "literary honesty"

9. Carbon of Gollancz's response, 27 March 1956. Gollancz says that though he published Orwell's books, he had little personal knowledge of him, nor knew anyone who did. Gollancz writes that his literary honest is impeccable, but his intellectual honesty is questionable, as if trying too hard to be honest with affectation. As a post script, Gollancz writes "incidentally, I think Orwell is enormously overrated".

10. Typed letter signed from Sonia Orwell to Gollancz, 17 January 1966, saying she is gathering Orwell's correspondence, and wonders if Gollancz has anything interesting.

11. Typed letter signed from Sonia Orwell to Gollancz, 2 June 1967, saying she hasn't received copies of letters that she was promised (referring to correspondence not present).

12. Carbon response from Livia Gollancz, 5 June 1967, enclosing copies of five Orwell letters.

13. Typed letter signed from Sonia Orwell to Livia Gollancz, 13 June 1967, thanking her for the letters, and asking if she would like a copy of letters she has from Victor Gollancz.

14. Carbon response from Gollancz, 14 June 1967, thanking her for her note and requesting copies of Victor Gollancz's letters.

15. Carbon from Gollancz to Sonia Orwell, 17 July 1967, saying there are no further letters in the Horrabin files.

16. Undated torn photograph of a young man, possibly of Orwell or a comrade in Catalonia.

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10 carbon copies of letters, 1 internal note, 4 typed letters signed, 1 photograph. Housed in a green flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Minor creasing and old staple marks, photograph torn. In very good condition.


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