Orwell Encounters An Extraordinary Fungus

Have you read anything interesting lately? I read for the first time Marlowe’s Faustus, & thought it rotten, also a mangy little book on Shakespeare trying to prove that Hamlet = Earl of Essex, also a publication called The Enemy of Wyndham Lewis (not the professional RC), who seems to have something in him, also something of Osbert Sitwell, also some odes of Horace, whom I wish I hadn’t neglected hitherto—otherwise nothing, not having much time or energy. Mrs. Carr sent me two books of Catholic apologetics, & I had great pleasure in reviewing one of them for a new paper called New English Weekly. It was the first time I had been able to lay the bastinado on a professional RC at any length. I have got a few square feet of garden, but have had rotten results owing to rain, slugs & mice. I have found hardly any birds’ nests—this place is on the outskirts of London, of course. I have also been keeping a pickle-jar aquarium, chiefly for the instruction of the boys, & we have newts, tadpoles, caddis-flies etc. If when you are passing, if you ever do, the pumping station at the beginning of the ferry-path, you see any eggs of puss moths on the poplar trees there, I should be awfully obliged if you would pick the leaves & send them to me by post. I want some, & have only been able to find one or two here. Of course I don’t mean make an expedition there, I only mean if you happen to be passing. What is Dennis doing these days? I want to consult him about an extraordinary fungus that was dug up here, but of course he never answers letters.

—George Orwell, letter to Eleanor Jaques, June 1932


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When I Worked

August 2011
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