27 November 2012

George Orwell in Kentish Town: London #42

Novelist and
Political Essayist
lived here'
For a few months in the second half of 1935 George Orwell, either at the suggestion of A. R. Orage (according to Michael Sayers) or Mabel Fierz (according to Michael Shelden) moved into the top part of 50 Lawford Road, Kentish Town, with Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall.* Orwell had the largest bedroom because he paid the largest part of the rent. He got on well with Sayers, but on one occasion Heppenstall – who could be a rather difficult character, Fierz later claimed – came in very drunk and provoked Orwell to thump him on the nose and attack him with a shooting stick. The following morning Orwell (in whose name the property was let) ordered that Heppenstall pack and go. Although the two made good their differences a year later later, Heppenstall had the last word five years after Orwell's death by writing an article called 'The Shooting Stick'.

*Gordon Bowker, 'Michael Sayers: Writer Whose Career Never Recovered from Being Blacklisted in the United States', Independent, 22 July 2010; Michael Shelden, Orwell: The Authorised Biography (London: Heinemann, 1991).

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