Thursday, 25 August 2011

By George! Orwell's hop-picking diary as a blog

The Orwell Prize today launches a blog of George Orwell's Hop-Picking Diary at

‘Post-blogging’ the diary George Orwell kept while tramping in London and hop-picking in Kent between August and October 1931, each diary entry will be published as a blogpost, 80 years to the day since it was first written.

Hop-picking was a tradition where urban workers would head to the countryside to harvest hops. Orwell used his experiences in his second novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), and for a 1931 New Statesman and Nation essay, ‘Hop-picking’.

The Hop-Picking Diary blog is the third, and final, blog of the Orwell Prize’s Orwell Diaries project.

It follows the original 1938-1942 diary blog (, and The Road to Wigan Pier diary blog (, publishing Orwell’s diary entries from his journey to the north of England between January and March 1936/2011.

Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell Prize, said: “The people are desperately poor, and they live unrecognised lives cheek by jowl with the better-off who simply do not even see them. The economy is failing, and there is little hope of any improvement. They resort to criminality, and their lives are stunted by their circumstances.

“Walk beside, and share the thoughts and intrepid curiosity of George Orwell, one of our greatest writers and journalists, as he journeys out with the poor working class hop-pickers of Kent. Day by day, in real time, share his developing understanding.”

Gavin Freeguard, deputy director of the Orwell Prize and editor of the project, added: “We hope we’ve made Orwell’s work more accessible, by bringing his diaries to public attention, making them available to anyone with internet access, and publishing them a day at a time – reading each entry as it unfolds is a very different experience from racing through them in a book. And the internet gives us access to a wealth of supporting tools and material, whether it’s being able to map Orwell’s progress or link to videos of hop-pickers.

“The days of Orwell’s diary may be numbered, but we hope readers will continue to use the blogs to learn about Orwell and the history he records.”

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