|English: Picture of George Orwell which appears in an old acreditation for the BNUJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Before he became one of the most influential writers in English history, Eric Arthur Blair spent much of his youth at his family’s house in Southwold on The Suffolk Coast. From 1929 to 1935 Southwold was both his home and writing base, and it was during this time that Eric Arthur Blair wrote his most formally experimental novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter, and adopted the pen name that would one day be known all over the world.
The Blairs were very settled in Southwold: Eric’s parents were well known around the town, and his sister Avril ran a popular teahouse. Eric integrated himself into coastal town life with ease, making many local friends and acquaintances, and eventually falling in love with a clergyman’s daughter who worked as a gym teacher at Southwold’s St Felix School.
Brenda Salkeld was close to all of the Blairs; she visited Avril’s teahouse, played bridge with Ida Blair and knew Richard Blair from Southwold Golf Club. She often went dancing on Saturday nights with her friends, and although Eric never went, he often joined them for a picnic on the beach on Sunday mornings. In 1930, just a year after moving to Southwold, Eric proposed to Brenda; and though she turned his proposal down, the two remained close friends for many years.
It’s a matter of speculation as to whether Brenda was the inspiration for Orwell’s novel A Clergyman’s Daughter; what is certain is that the experimental novel never satisfied him, and he ordered it not to be reprinted after his death.
In early 1933, Eric Arthur Blair published his first novel as George Orwell, Down and Out. The first half of the name echoed that of the current king, the second was taken and the name of Suffolk’s great river, the River Orwell. Eric Arthur Blair always loved the River Orwell, with its lagoons, mudflats and rolling green hills. While he lived in Southwold he took many long walks there, before returning to his writing desk to become George Orwell.
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