Archive for the ‘Orwell diaries’ tag

Orwell Diaries Blog Nominated for Webby

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I’m delighted to report that the Orwell Diaries blog, set up and run by the Media Standards Trust (well, Gavin who sits opposite me to be precise) has made it to the shortlist of the Webbys.

It has been nominated by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences for Best Culture/Personal Blog, along with 1000 Awesome Things, Design Observer, Indexed, and TreeHugger.
If, like me (though I’m biased), think the Orwell Diaries blog is great – you can vote for it at http://pv.webbyawards.com/. Please do, it has been a labour of love for Gavin who, as well as coming up with the idea and getting the entries uploaded from the Orwell archive (courtesy of the Orwell Estate) has carefully linked the entries to Google Maps, Wikipedia, BBC Gardening, and many many other weird and wonderful sites. The blog even has the notes from Peter Davison’s Complete Works of Orwell to contextualise some of his references.
Some of my favourite entries track Orwell’s route from London to Morocco in 1938. You can not only see his sea route to Marrakech but see a picture of the boat he travelled on and the dock from which it set sail. Soon (after quite a lengthy period writing about eggs) he will start to describe the build up to the Second World War.
You’ve got a week or two left to vote at http://pv.webbyawards.com/- winners will be announced on Tuesday 5th May.

Written by Martin Moore

April 21st, 2009 at 3:39 pm

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How the Orwell diaries went global

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We had no idea that when we – the Orwell Prize and Media Standards Trust – decided to celebrate the 70th anniversary of George Orwell’s diaries by publishing them as a daily blog, they would attract such an astonishing amount of attention.

From Italy to Australia, from the Today Programme to the Boston Globe, the re-publication of the diaries, exactly 70 years after Orwell started them in August 1938, has triggered amazing international interest.

Newsnight’s Paul Mason went so far as to write a ‘homage to the old Tory anarchist’ blog in the style of Orwell. While the Observer mused, “does a blog by a dead person count as a real blog, as the author cannot engage in vicious spats with commentators or post photographs of his cat?”

So how did they come to be published? It started, as these things do, with an awfully good idea. Gavin Freeguard, the Orwell Prize Administrator (with whom I work here at the Media Standards Trust), was trawling through the Orwell archive – a wonderfully dusty couple of rooms housed in a fantastically 1984-ish concrete edifice just north of Euston – when he became entranced by the author’s diaries.

At once substantive and trivial, insightful and quirky, they illuminate both a remarkable man and a remarkable time. Orwell was motivated to start the diaries by Europe’s descent into war. Yet rather than just keep a political record he also decided to write his personal reflections, so giving the reader a sense of place and mood, as well as history.

Yet they have only ever been seen as a footnote to Orwell’s other work. Indeed the only previous time they’ve seen the light of day was 20 years ago, in Peter Davison’s monumental complete works of Orwell (with an understandably limited print run).

It was only after leaving the archive that the serendipity of dates occurred to Gavin. That we were only weeks away from the diaries’ 70th anniversary, and that it would be crazy not to make them available to a wider audience by publishing them as a blog (with a big hat tip to Phil Gyford and the Samuel Pepys diary – launched as a blog back in January 2003).

The news that we were about to do this was picked up by the Today Programme and the Telegraph on Wednesday 30th July, after which it was snaffled by bloggers, then US mainstream press, and then went global (for links to just a few of the international stories see the blog roll on Orwell Diaries).

Our hope now is that by raising the profile of the diaries we’ll not only peak interest in Orwell and his political writing, but in the notion of political blogs generally. The number of good political blogs is, in the UK at least, still pretty limited and most have a teeny audience. Perhaps the Orwell blog will help to change that.

Written by Martin Moore

August 13th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

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