Burmese Days has been described as ‘the most conventional of Orwell’s novels, and as a novel the most successful’.9 It was written during the years 1932–3 while he was working as a schoolmaster, first at The Hawthorns school, Hayes, and then at Frays College, Uxbridge. Much of the book had therefore to be written in the evenings after a full day of teaching and school activities, and successive drafts were typewritten as he sat in his lonely lodgings. The circumstances of his daily life at this time must have made the strangest contrast with the theme and atmosphere of the novel. Writing to his friend Eleanor Jaques from his lodgings at The Hawthorns, Station Road, Hayes he commented: ‘The most disagreeable thing here is not the job … but Hayes itself, which is one of the most godforsaken places I have ever struck’.10 The monotonous landscape of London suburbia can hardly have been a conducive environment from which to evoke the landscape of Upper Burma, and it says much for Orwell that despite his uninspiring surroundings and the lack of intellectual or imaginative stimuli he persevered with his novel. It also says much for him that he pressed on with it despite the fact that during much of its composition he had no expectation that Down and Out in Paris and London would find a publisher.
KeywordsConducive Environment Adventure Story Hunting Expedition Harmonious Work Successive Draft
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