Note on the text

The text is taken, with the kind permission of the Orwell Estate, from The Complete Works of George Orwell, wonderfully edited by Peter Davison. The diaries can also be found in George Orwell: Diaries (also edited by Peter), published in hardback by Harvill Secker and in paperback by Penguin.

From George Orwell: Diaries, by Peter Davison:

Orwell used his diary entries when writing The Road to Wigan Pier but he also did a considerable amount of research and many of the documents he worked from have survived. For reprints of much of this material and further details, see the Complete Works, X, pp. 538-584. It is possible that Orwell typed his diary whilst in the north using the typewriter he had with him which he used for typing letters. However, the typescript is in two separately paginated sections (1-36 for 31 January to 5 March inclusive; 1-25, headed ‘Diary’, for the remainder), so later typing for at least the second section seems probable and Eileen may have typed some of the handwritten diary – see headnote, CW, X, p. 417 for full analysis. The typescript has manuscript changes but only the most significant are noted here. Full details are given in the Complete Works. Minor slips are corrected silently.

Orwell gives details of the costs he incurred on his journey north and his stay there. These, of course, are in ‘old money’ and when costs and prices were far lower than today. For convenience – there were 12 pence in a shilling and twenty shillings to the £ (so a £ was equivalent to 240 pennies). A penny could be divided into two – a halfpenny or ha’penny – and four (a farthing). It is difficult to give modern equivalents of prices in 1936 and seventy years later but, multiplying by 40 will give a rough approximation. It is important to understand that this is an average: whereas some items may have increased by many times more than 40, some have increased less sharply.

…Orwell’s annotations are indicated by symbols (as was his practice); editorial annotations are numbered. The superior degree sign (°) is used sparingly where one of Orwell’s idiosyncratic spellings is retained.

We have omitted some of the notes where a hyperlink can provide the same information.

Many thanks to David Lyons for the transcriptions.

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