Principles and Propaganda: the BBC Orwell Archive

I made a mighty find today – and it was completely by accident, I might add. It’s an online archive of George Orwell’s communications from 1941-1943, curated by the BBC. That period marks his time as a BBC staffer, where he was assigned to write broadcasts to India – essentially propaganda, as the BBC now admits. Here’s a letter from Orwell to T.S. Eliot (!).

orwell to eliot

Here are the details from the BBC:

For two years, between 1941 and 1943, George Orwell – real name Eric Blair – was BBC staff member 9889, hired as a Talks Producer for the Eastern Service to write what was essentially propaganda for broadcast to India.

From recruitment to resignation, this collection of documents reveals the high regard in which Orwell was held by his colleagues and superiors and his own uncompromising integrity and honesty. Internal memos explore working relationships with literary contributors, while letters written from the Hebridean island of Jura colour the background to the creation of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.

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