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from the beginning
Viasat History

George Orwell

Best known for the allegorical novella “Animal Farm” (1945) and the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949). In 1939, he returned to the UK after fighting in the Spanish Civil War and worked on his first collection of essays "Inside the Whale".

George Orwell

Best known for the allegorical novella “Animal Farm” (1945) and the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949). In 1939, he returned to the UK after fighting in the Spanish Civil War and worked on his first collection of essays "Inside the Whale".

 Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet.

Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. Manchester Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow.

Hot. Planted 2 rows leeks (about 75 plants). There are 5 different colours of larkspurs coming out. 

9 eggs (4 small).


Russo-German Pact signed. Terms given in Berlin (File War etc). suggest close pact & no “escape” clause. This evening’s radio news gives confirmation in Moscow in same terms. Official statement from Moscow that “enemies of both countries” have tried to drive Russia & Germany into enmity. Brit. Ambassador calls on Hitler & is told no action of ours can influence German decision. Japanese opinion evidently seriously angered by what amounts to German desertion of anti-Comintern pact, & Spanish (Franco) opinion evidently similarly affected. Rumania said to have declared neutrality. Chamberlain’s speech as reported on wireless very strong & hardly seems to allow loophole for escape from aiding Poles. Eileen on visiting W.O. today derived impression that war is almost certain. Police arrived this morning to arrange for billeting of soldiers. Some people (foreigners) arrived in afternoon looking for rooms – the second lot in 3 days. In spite of careful listening, impossible in pubs etc. to overhear any spontaneous comment or sign of slightest interest in the situation, in spite of fact that almost everyone when questioned believes it will be war. [ The Times; Daily Telegraph; News Chronicle; Manchester Guardian; Daily Express; Daily Herald; Daily Mail; London Evening News]

Hot. Some blackberries reddening. Found a few mushrooms. Most of the corn now cut, & everyone working fast to get in the remainder while the good weather lasts. Coveys of partridges are mostly large (8–12 birds) but the young birds seem rather small. Saw bird which I cannot identify. In size colour & type by flight it resembled a waterhen, but apparently was not a waterhen, as it flew too well & took to the wing too readily, & also it was nowhere near water. It got up together with a hen pheasant, but was certainly not a pheasant at any stage of development. 

  1. German-Italian “compromise” scheme for Polish problem alleged to have been formulated, in a form that would obviously not be accepted by Poland. [ Daily Telegraph ]
  2. Staff talks in Moscow have begun. [ Daily Telegraph ]

Warm & fine. Damsons (such as there are) almost ripe. Finished getting ground ready for greens. At last found the lost hen, which was sitting on 13 eggs. She has been gone just a month. Altogether 6 broodies now (out of 23 hens). Put them all in Eileen’s cage this afternoon. Yesterday with great difficulty we weighed a duck, &, if we were not wrong, it was about 3¾ lb (6½ weeks). So we are going to send the 2 biggest to market tomorrow to see what they fetch.

10 eggs (3 small).

  1. M. G. correspondent reports that German mobilization will be at full strength halfway through August & that some attempt to terrorize Poland will be made. War stated to be the likeliest issue (as also in yesterday’s Time & Tide ). The striking thing is the perfunctory air with which these statements are made in all papers, as though with an inner certainty that nothing of the kind can happen. [ Manchester Guardian Weekly, 8.11.39; Orwell incorrectly dates this as 8.12.39]
  2. Appearances seem to show that fighting on the Manchurian border from Changkufeng incident onwards has been fairly heavy but inconclusive. [ Manchester Guardian Weekly, 8.11.39; misdated as 8.12.39; La Révolution Prolétarienne, undated]
  1. All my books from the Obelisk Press this morning seized by the police, with a warning from Public Prosecutor that I am liable to be prosecuted if importing such things again. They had opened my letter addressed to Obelisk Press evidently at Hitchin. Do not know yet whether because of the address or because my own mail is now scrutinized. [No reference]
  2. Potato & tomato said to have been successfully crossed in U.S.S.R. [Smallholder]
  1. Refugee problem stated to be becoming serious in London especially the East End. Mosley said to have not greatly increased his following however. [Private]
  2. It appears that the Post Office authorities are now able to read a letter, sufficient to determine the nature of its contents, without opening it. [Private]

Warm & fine. Some carnations now well out.

10 eggs (2 small). Sold 25 @ 2/6 score & 10 (pullets) @ 2/2 score.

Total this week: 73 (16 small).

Raining most of day, with sunny intervals, windy. Ground now very sodden, everything growing very fast. Lifted some more early potatoes (about 3½ months). Not many on each root. Saw the lost hen again this morning. Mrs Anderson says she has seen her several mornings & thinks she is in the thick bushes up the west end of the field. She occasionally comes out to eat, usually in the very early morning. The trouble is that a fox or dog may get her before she has finished brooding. 13 eggs (3 small.)

  1. French-Brit, military mission leaving tomorrow on slow liner which will take a week to reach Leningrad. The Week suggests that the move is not intended seriously. Quotations from Finnish papers & Swedish Foreign Minister’s speech suggest that Baltic States are genuinely nervous. [ Daily Telegraph; Manchester Guardian Weekly; The Week, 8.2.39]
  2. Germany said to be considering transference of Slovakia from Hungary in order to detach the latter from Poland. Said also to be systematically depleting Slovakia of timber, foodstuffs & machinery. [ Manchester Guardian Weekly. ]

Albatross Press arranging for publication of my last book require excision of certain (though not all) unfriendly references to Hitler. Say they are obliged to do this as their books circulate largely in Germany. Also excision of a passage of about a page suggesting that war is imminent. [F. Personal]

  1. Labour MPs’ complaints in Parliament about conditions in militia turn upon such things as militiamen sleeping 8 in a tent. [ Daily Telegraph ]
  2. Appears that German Jewish refugees are settling in great numbers in certain parts of London, eg. Golders Green, & buying houses which they have plenty of money to do. [Private (C.W.) ]