The Last Days of George Orwell by Hilary Spurling
This article has been published on the Literary Hub website. It begins:
Anthony Powell’s novel was giving him trouble; the agitation he always felt at the prospect of handing over a manuscript was now worse than ever because of the enormity of this particular project, and his own uncertainty about it. He cheered himself up by putting together a parcel of books by Barry Pain, a turn-of-the-century humorist with the dark streak that appealed to Powell in the Edwardians (“a more morbid collection of men could not be named,” he said of the light versifiers he read aloud to Tristram at bedtime).
The book package was for George Orwell, currently struggling to type out his own newly finished manuscript in time to meet a publisher’s deadline on Jura. “I love anything like that,” he wrote happily when he got it, explaining that he was still too weak to sit up at a table for long, or spend more than a few hours out of bed even though he’d left hospital in July. Nineteen Eighty-Four had taken almost more than he had to give: “it’s a ghastly mess now, a good idea ruined, but of course I was seriously ill for 7 or 8 months of the time.”