Letchworth and Wallington host first George Orwell Festival

A LITERARY giant’s life and work will be celebrated when a 10-day festival organised in his honour kicks off on Friday.

The first George Orwell Festival takes place in Letchworth GC and the nearby village of Wallington, where the prolific political essayist, journalist and author lived.

The multi-streamed week of events will include adaptations of Orwell’s stories, many of which, including Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia and Coming Up For Air, were written between 1936-47 while he was renting a cottage in Wallington’s Kits Lane.

Topics for the festival, which has been given the blessing of Orwell’s son Richard Blair, include CCTV, Orwell’s influence on the Soviet Union and popular culture, and what the author, who died in 1950, would have been writing about now.

The festival, which culminates with writer and actor Michael McEvoy’s one-man show The Last Man in Europe: A Portrait of George Orwell on September 18, also features appearances from founder of Big Issue magazine John Bird, Guardian satirical cartoonist Steve Bell and international author Vitali Vitaliev.

The programme also includes art events such as a night of comedy, satire and topical comment organised by Amnesty International North Herts and Lastminutecomedy Club, and An Evening of Orwell-themed Poetry hosted by Poetry id.

Richard Hallmark, chairman of the festival’s steering committee, decided to organise the festival after finding out that many people didn’t know about Orwell’s life in Wallington.

Most Read

He said: “I said to someone that somebody should do something and they said ‘why don’t you do it’, so I did.

“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for it when I’ve been talking about it and people have said it’s a great idea.

“It’s been a big effort and a big disruption to my private life but it’s been well worthwhile.”