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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  47 reviews
This groundbreaking volume, never before published in the United States, at last introduces the interior life of George Orwell, the writer who defined twentieth-century political thought. Written as individual books throughout his career, the eleven surviving diaries collected here record Orwell’s youthful travels among miners and itinerant laborers, the fearsome rise of t ...more
Hardcover, 598 pages
Published 2012 by Liveright (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  382 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Collection of Orwell's diaries, taken down over a period of almost 20 years: 1931-1950.

The first two substantial sections are written in the 1930s. The first describes his time spent as a migrant farm laborer, and the second describes his visits to industrial towns which would eventually contribute to The Road to Wigan Pier. In both of these, we see scrupulous attention to detail.

The third and longest portion of the diaries deals with the Second World War, covering the months
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit biased, Orwell is my favorite author..and I have a secret crush on him (well now it's not so secret :])
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Eric Arthur Blair, aka George Orwell, kept close account of his life, both the political and the domestic. These diaries are selected spans of time representing his life and the history surrounding it.

This volume includes:
Hop-Picking Diary - August 25, 1931-March 25, 1936
The Road to Wigan Pier Diary - August 9, 1938, March 28, 1939
Domestic Diary Volume I (August 9, 1938- March 28, 1939) intercalated with
Morocco Diary - September 7, 1938 - March 28, 1939
George Orwell's diaries, which he kept fairly regularly throughout his adult life, are frequently more domestic than they are political. Several months can go by with page after page devoted to the domestic minutiae of stock-keeping and gardening (e.g., eggs laid, pints of goat milk taken, vegetables planted) on the small farmholdings he maintained in the late 1930s and after the war until his death. But interspersed with these details are his keen observations on the plight of poor labourers in ...more
I really wanted this to be more interesting than it is. Dudes, it's Orwell, for Christ's sake. But after six months of dutifully reading this blog, I've had enough. There's only so many entries composed entirely of descriptions of the local weather, flora, fauna, and accounting of eggs a girl can take. I mean, really.
Four stars for the wartime diaries, the Moroccan diary, and the Wigan Pier and hop-picking diaries, but two for the domestic diaries. There are some interesting nature observations in there, but I can really only read entries about how many pints of milk the goat gave and how many eggs the chickens laid before my eyes start to cross.
Joseph Raffetto
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, diaries
I’m a huge George Orwell fan. Down and Out in Paris and London and 1984 are two entirely different but amazing works for art, and you’ll find a little of both in his diaries.

The book begins with a fine introduction by the late Christopher Hitchens: “By declining to lie, even as far as possible to himself, and by his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, he showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral cou
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Certainly interesting and worthwhile overall, though the editors were apparently drunk and/or confused re: which of Orwell's diaries should be included in a published volume.

Over half the text in this book consists of Orwell's notes to himself in "domestic notebooks" about farming, weather, etc., in clipped shorthand, obviously not intended for publication, and shedding zero light on anything of note. It would be like publishing Hegel's grocery lists as an insight into his philosophy.

Still, th
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly the diaries don't match the best of Orwell's essays and novels. But they do offer a fascinating insight into the man, who was far more practical than most intellectuals.
Moira Russell
Aug 24, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: in-the-queue
MINE MINE MINE PREEECIOUS. ahem! Um, I mean, these arrived today.
Rachel Stevenson
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You should never meet your heroes and maybe you shouldn't read their diaries either. On one hand it’s fascinating to read the diaries behind The Road To Wigan Pier, Down And Out in Paris And London, and The Clergyman's Daughter (but not the background to Homage to Catalonia as that diary was confiscated by the communists and is now in Russia) – it's a bit like reading Christopher And His Kind after Goodbye to Berlin – but I can't help being shocked by Orwell's rude remarks about Jews, women, and ...more
Brian Robbins
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Orwell is one of those authors as we all know who creates strong reactions in many of his readers, either for or against.

Unfortunately many of those who write about him, including some of the more superficial biographers, respond to him from a political point of view as if that summed up the whole man; he tends to be lauded or attacked as a person & a writer from the very narrow perspective of a superficial perception of what his political views are supposed to have been. It’s the equivelan
Michael Arnold
This was a book that started out very interesting, then became stupendously boring, and then became amazingly interesting, and then become stupendously boring yet again. I am a big fan of Orwell, and I bought this book to learn more about his thoughts during WW2, when in London during the Blitz. That is the best bit of the book, and is full of some extremely memorable, really brilliant - even poetic language. Such as:

p. 285

The unspeakable depression of lighting the fires
Derek Baldwin
This starts well with an account of Orwell slumming it with Kentish hop-pickers, albeit that much of the material was reproduced in A Clergyman's Daughter and elsewhere. Then follow various diaries which largely repeat world events (albeit epochal ones) with relatively little comment, and endless accounts of how many eggs the hens have laid. This definitely starts to pall after a while. I didn't get more than 40% through the book.

I love Orwell, he's a great treasure as a
Maureen M
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I wrote this mini-review for the paper:
The mind that delivered “1984” and other dark prophesies comes into unflinching focus in “George Orwell Diaries.” Page upon page reveals a man who brought the same scrutiny to all about him, from the events leading up to World War II to the number of eggs the hens were laying. He missed nothing. He wrote everything down. The diaries, from 1931 to 1946, describe an unrelenting reformer going back to the time he upset the locals by helping an English coal mi
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this as George Orwell is one of my favorite authors and I wanted to learn more about his personal life through these "Diaries." The first couple chapters of the book were very informative and I enjoyed them a lot, then the book divided into chapters that were alternately interesting and not so interesting. (In between each interesting chapter of the book were what was called a "Domestic Diary" and each of these meandered into daily weather reports, animal/farming updates, a ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an Orwell aficionado, I believe that there are 6 layers of Orwell's writing (from most well-known to least):
1. 1984 and Animal Farm (Standard reading in American public education)
2. Politics and the English Language, Why I Write, Shooting an Elephant (Famous essays)
3. Homage to Catalonia, Down and Out in Paris and London (Relatively famous personal books)
4. Such, Such Were the Joys, The Lion and the Unicorn (Less famous essays)
5. Coming Up for Air, Burmese Days (
Aug 16, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: diary-journal
Interesting review in NYT:

Sounds like this one is for the die-hard fan, which includes me, but I'm sure I'll wait for pb version. (O's letters, though, in Collected Journalism, Essays and Letters, are quite good, a must-read for anyone with deep interest in his work.) Christopher Hitchens' intro, one of his final pieces, is an added attraction.
Ryan Williams
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
If you actually want to know how Orwell's potatoes were doing, this is the volume for you. Otherwise, this is a waste of money - the recent Penguin Classics paperback costs the same as two bottles of Blossom Hill. The few interesting parts are the dry-runs for Down and Out and Wigan Pier, despite the number of times Orwell drones on (and on) about how minging Stafford is.
Peter Williams
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Three stars.
Three eggs!
Robert Sheppard

George Orwell was an inveterate and compulsive writer of diaries, lists, news summaries and notebooks. He daily, even hourly jotted down his ideas, notes on friends and fellow writers, excerpts and clippings from newspapers, recipes, farming and gardening hints and records, biographical materials on leaders
Alexandra Popoff
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to my reading of Orwell's Diaries. While they reveal a different side of this tremendously talented writer, the Diaries provide only few insights into his creative laboratory. His Domestic diaries contain dreary and repetitive notes about life on the farm, minutest detail about his chickens, goats, vegetable garden, and so on. A typical entry states how many eggs his hens laid on a certain day; how many were sold, and what was his goats' milk yield. Because such entries wer ...more
Matt Mangieri
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a little bland, and it was all over the chart. The book was even a little anti semetic at certain points, but it was very informative on how Orwell developed his ideas and opinions on his anti fascist views and even his anti communist views. He gave an account on his life and how he went from being a vagrant to a writer.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s a criminal shame that not once in all the treaty negotiations between US and the Russians did anyone demand the repatriation of George Orwell’s Spanish Civil War diaries from their presumed imprisonment in the KGB archives.
Corinna Hasofferett
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sad to know, to learn how much suffering this great man had to undergo, dying so young of a malady today could have been easily cured.
And so touching to see how to the last moment he cared for his garden.
A book to read and reread.
Richard Whitehead
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love especially the allotment accounts from Wallington also the day to day accounts of the war, refreshingly informed, candid, perceptive, unsentimental.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mildly interesting details of farm life, with some travel notes and some political commentary early in World War II.
Gaylord Dold
Dec 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Davidson, Peter (ed.), George Orwell: Diaries, Liveright Publishing/W.W.Norton, New York, 2012 (597pp.$39.95)

One hundred million people died during the various ideological and political catastrophes of the 20th century---wars, famines and holocausts brought on by the tripartite clashing of imperial capitalist colonialism, nationalism, fascism and totalitarian communism. Perhaps no single person better observed these monumental disasters than George Orwell, born Eric Blair to a middli
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Orwell is - of all writers, of all time - the one I feel closest to, and perhaps even most grateful to, and would most like to have met. (And, having spent many afternoons in Trafalgar Square, there's a thrill in reading of him spending a cold night on a bench there in 1936 and then shaving in one of the fountains in the morning.) But his diaries are at best moderately interesting (the Hop-Picking Diary, and the Road to Wigan Pier Diary, with their sweaty, vividly immediate evocations of an ordi ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book interesting because it seems like these diaries were the starting point of many of Orwell's books. One can understand the thinking that went behind 1984, what moved Orwell about modern poverty, his thoughts about the war (often incorrect, in the light of subsequent events), etc. Many parts of this book are skip-worthy, what with Orwell documenting the number of eggs his chickens laid, or how ill his goat was an so on (one imagines that Orwell never intended for those diaries to ...more
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial P
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“Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist.” 23 likes
“[I]t struck me how easy it is to bamboozle an uneducated audience if you have prepared beforehand a set of repartees with which to evade awkward questions."
. . .
"You can go on and on telling lies, and the most palpable lies at that, and even if they are not actually believed, there is no strong revulsion either. We are all drowning in filth. When I talk to anyone or read the writings of anyone who has an axe to grind, I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgment have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Everyone's thought is forensic, everyone is simply putting a 'case' with deliberate suppression of his opponent's point of view, and, what is more, with complete insensitiveness to any sufferings except those of himself and his friends…. But is there no one who has both firm opinions and a balanced outlook? Actually there are plenty, but they are powerless. All power is in the hands of paranoiacs.”
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