Girl From The Fiction Department: A Portrait Of Sonia Orwell

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9780141008172: Girl From The Fiction Department: A Portrait Of Sonia Orwell

The Girl from the Fiction Department is Hilary Spurling's absorbing biography of George Orwell's second wife. George Orwell's second wife was portrayed by her husband's biographers as a manipulative gold-digger who would stop at nothing to keep control of his legacy. But the truth about Sonia Orwell - the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four - was altogether different. Beautiful, intelligent and fiercely idealistic, she lived at the heart of London's literary and artistic scene before her marriage to Orwell changed her life for ever. Burdened with the almost impossible task of protecting Orwell's estate, Sonia's loyalty to her late husband brought her nothing but poverty and despair. 'Lucid, compassionate. Brings this complex woman, and the times she lived in, vibrantly to life' Sunday Tribune 'Absorbing and sparkling. Brilliant. I urge you to read this provocative book' Sunday Express 'A story to move you to tears' Scotsman Hilary Spurling is a prize-winning biographer whose books include Ivy: The Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett, The Unknown Matisse, Matisse the Master and La Grande Therese.

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About the Author:

Hilary Spurling was born in 1940. She is the author of numerous biographies, including Ivy When Young: The Early Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1884-1919; Paul Scott: A Life; a two-volume biography of Matisse, The Unknown Matisse and Matisse the Master (also published in the abridged single-volume Matisse: The Life); and Burying the Bones. She won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize for Ivy When Young, the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for Matisse the Master, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Burying the Bones. She grew up in Bristol and studied at the University of Oxford. From 1964 to 1970 she was theatre critic and literary editor of the Spectator, and since then she has been a regular book reviewer for the Observer and the Daily Telegraph. She lives in London with her husband, the playwright John Spurling, with whom she has three children. Her new book, Anthony Powell, will be published by Hamish Hamilton in October 2016.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sonia Brownell (1918-1980) married George Orwell in 1949 because he said it would help him recover his health. Unfortunately, the marriage proved no panacea for tuberculosis, and 14 weeks after the wedding, he died, leaving Sonia, a talented editor associated with the magazine Horizon, as his sole heir. She also inherited his pseudonym (which she continued to use as her surname till the end of her life), and, in time, assumed the role of the ferocious Widow Orwell, jealous guardian of her husband's literary reputation. Her battles with upstart biographers and established publishers, her vicious tongue and her propensity for drink led to her being vilified as a grasping opportunist. Mary McCarthy used the occasion of Sonia's memorial service to summarize her weakest points, notes Spurling, and David Plante anatomized her in Difficult Women. Now her good friend Spurling, a highly regarded biographer, seeks to set the record straight with a portrait that emphasizes Sonia's vitality, generosity, kindness and support of writers like Jean Rhys, who were much in need of it. Though Spurling treads lightly over the more intimate aspects of Sonia's life and two marriages, she does remind readers that Sonia was more than just Orwell's relict; she was closely involved in the lives and careers of many of the most influential British, French and American artists and writers of the mid-20th century. Spurling's brief, warm biography appears a touching act of friendship; if she perhaps overstates the case for Sonia, she makes clear that Sonia's critics have exaggerated the case against her. B&w photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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