George Orwell's determination to finish Nineteen Eighty-Four on island of Jura 'responsible for his premature death'

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George Orwell's determination to finish writing his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four on the Scottish island of Jura was responsible for his premature death, it has been claimed.

The English novelist, whose real name was Eric Blair, had suffered from tuberculosis when he returned to the Inner Hebridean island in 1948. He believed the solitude on the island would help him finish the novel.

The English novelist, whose real name was Eric Blair, had suffered from tuberculosis when he returned to the Inner Hebridean island in 1948. He believed the solitude on the island would help him finish the novel.

The English novelist, whose real name was Eric Blair, had suffered from tuberculosis when he returned to the Inner Hebridean island in 1948. He believed the solitude on the island would help him finish the novel.

But Scottish author Norman Bissell, who has researched Orwell's life for a decade, said the writer's determination to complete the work on Jura did irretrievable damage to his health and ultimately led to his demise at the age of just 46.

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Orwell was working on Nineteen Eighty-Four on Jura when he was diagnosed with TB in 1947. He would spend seven months in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, before returning to the island to finish his literary masterpiece.

Although he eventually returned to England, he died just seven months after the novel was published.

Mr Bissell, from the Isle of Luing -- a dozen miles from Orwell's home on Jura -- said: "In July 1948, against recommendations to recuperate from tuberculosis in a sanitorium down south, Orwell decided instead to go back to Jura. Medical attention was far more scarce on the island and this decision probably cost him his life.

"His determination to meet the publisher’s deadline of the beginning of December 1948 saw him reworking the manuscript, despite his deteriorating health.

"He insisted on being present whilst the manuscript was being typed, in order to ensure that his copious notes were deciphered correctly and incorporated but was unwilling to leave Jura.

"Despite his requests, no typist was willing to journey out to the island, so he typed it himself sitting up in bed. Resolved to have five copies to send out as required, he laboriously typed these up himself -- a decision that really destroyed the last of his health.

"He met his December deadline as planned, but at a cost, exhausting himself completely in the process.

"He never really recovered, and was finally admitted to a sanitorium in Gloucestershire, then to University College Hospital in London, where he died on 21 January 1950."

Orwell had visited Jura following the death of his wife in 1945, and saw it as an escape from London life. He returned the following year and stayed at Barnhill, the remote farmhouse where he would begin to write Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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Driven by a desire to undermine the enemies of democracy and make plain the dangers of dictatorship, surveillance, doublethink and censorship, he typed away in his damp bedroom overlooking the sea.

In August 1947, Orwell led a boating expedition across the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan and nearly drowned in the whirlpool, which worsened his health.

Just before Christmas that year, a chest specialist visited Orwell on the island and diagnosed tuberculosis. Orwell spent seven months at Hairmyres Hospital but eventually returned to Jura to finish the manuscript that would introduce Big Brother, Thought Police, Newspeak and Room 101 to the world, but his health continued to decline.

Mr Bissell, whose own novel Barnhill tells the story of Orwell’s final years, said the writer's vision of the demise of objective truth under a totalitarian dictatorship has never been more relevant.

He said: "His forensic political insight remains an extremely valuable asset in this rapidly changing world. His work is a touchstone for those defending political and social freedom, because of his relentless pursuit of truth and fearless exposure of those who misuse power."