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George Orwell’s son Richard unveils plaque in Canonbury Square (this time with the correct dates)

PUBLISHED: 11:29 24 May 2016 | UPDATED: 14:02 24 May 2016

Richard Blair, the adopted son of George Orwell, unveiling a new plaque in Canonbury Square where he lived for three years. Picture: Ken Mears

Richard Blair, the adopted son of George Orwell, unveiling a new plaque in Canonbury Square where he lived for three years. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

A historical plaque is taken down and replaced with a near-identical sign – save one detail.

George Orwell. Picture: PA/EMPICSGeorge Orwell. Picture: PA/EMPICS

It sounds rather like the Ministry of Truth’s efforts to cover up the posters proclaiming that Oceania is at war with Eurasia – sorry, Eastasia – in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four.

But this time, no one is denying the switch took place.

More than 100 people watched as Richard Blair, the writer’s adopted son, unveiled a plaque at 27B Canonbury Square on Monday – this time bearing the correct dates of his father’s residence.

Richard Blair (holding plaque), Islington councillors, members of the Orwell and Canonbury Societies and members of the public at the plaque unveiling. Picture: Ken MearsRichard Blair (holding plaque), Islington councillors, members of the Orwell and Canonbury Societies and members of the public at the plaque unveiling. Picture: Ken Mears

The writer lived there between 1944 and 1947, but the old plaque said only 1945.

Canonbury Square was where Orwell, real name Eric Arthur Blair, began writing the dystopian masterpiece.

Richard, now 72, told the crowd: “It’s [nearly] 70 years since I was here. I don’t remember a great deal about this place!

The George Orwell plaque unveiling attracted 100 people to Canonbury Square last night. Picture: Ken MearsThe George Orwell plaque unveiling attracted 100 people to Canonbury Square last night. Picture: Ken Mears

“I do remember sticking my finger into the cell-powered doorbell: it gave me a bit of a blast.

“And I recall my father was very keen on woodwork as he would make me little toys upstairs.

Animal Farm really launched him into the world. It gave him the freedom to step back from journalism and start writing what would be his final novel, Nineteen Eighty-four.

'Shivers': Mayor of Islington Kat Fletcher with Richard Blair in Canonbury Square. Picture: Ken Mears'Shivers': Mayor of Islington Kat Fletcher with Richard Blair in Canonbury Square. Picture: Ken Mears

“When my mother Eileen died in 1945, he was adamant he was going to hang on to me. I am very proud to be his adopted son.”

Philip Walker of the Canonbury Society, which organised the plaque unveiling with Islington Council, said: “I think George Orwell would have been impressed by the simple arrangements for this unveiling: no political interference or Thought Police.

“We in Canonbury are so grateful that he spent time among us here, enriching our heritage.”

Mayor of Islington Kat Fletcher added: “George Orwell is critically important to Islington’s history. It gives me shivers that parts of Nineteen Eighty-four were written here.”


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