Wednesday, 25 March 2015
More treasures from the India Office collections, this time in the form of two brief references to some character called E. A. Blair. In some ways, Eric Arthur Blair is a fiction that will forever be overshadowed by the nom de plume he created for himself, and so being out of reach he is perhaps of more interest. Not that there was much in the way of substance to what I found in the India Office Lists for 1927 and 1928: one, a terse announcement that Blair had joined the service as a district superintendent in Burma on 29 November 1922, the other an equally short note advising of his 'retirement' on 12 March 1928. Not that there is any great mystery about this period of the man's life - it produced two classic essays, and doubtless the references I looked at have been used by his many biographers. But the thrill of seeing it there in black and white, and knowing something of what lay behind his decision (momentous as it turned out) to 'retire'! This is George Orwell I'm on about - not some Phil Space hack writing to order for the tabloids.