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A Clergyman's Daughter by George Orwell

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A Clergyman’s Daughter by George Orwell


The ‘blurb’

Intimidated by her father, the rector of Knype Hill, Dorothy performs her submissive roles of dutiful daughter and bullied housekeeper. Her thoughts are taken up with the costumes she is making for the church school play, by the hopelessness of preaching to the poor and by debts she cannot pay in 1930s Depression England.


Suddenly her routine shatters and Dorothy finds herself down and out in London. She is wearing silk stockings, has money in her pocket and cannot remember her name. Orwell leads us through a landscape of unemployment, poverty and hunger, where Dorothy's faith is challenged by a social reality that changes her life.


This is the second of Orwell’s works of fiction and is another of his social commentary novels. According to the notes in the front of the book (which I read after I’d finished reading) Orwell disliked this novel immensely and called it “a silly potboiler”. In 1945, ten years after it was written, he said that it should never be reprinted, but eventually allowed that it could be reprinted after his death in order that it “might bring a few pounds” for his heirs!


He considered it an experimental novel and

chapter three differs from the rest of the book as it’s delivered entirely in the form of dramatic dialogue, which comes as something of a surprise! It means that this chapter is much faster-paced than those preceding or succeeding it.



Written in 1935, two years after the non-fiction Down and Out in Paris and London, the story draws from personal experience and is obviously the result of meticulous research.

Orwell even disguised himself as a tramp and went ‘hopping’ in 1931 and the characters "Ginger" and "Deafie" in the novel were based on people he met during that time. He taught at a small private school of the kind that appears in this novel, although I gather his was slightly better run!




Edited by Janet
297 pages, not 197!

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