The Road to Wigan Pier
In January 1936 Orwell was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to make a study of unemployment in the depressed areas of the north of England and to write about what he had seen. The understanding was that the book resulting from the journey would not only be published by Gollancz but would also be considered as a selection of the Left Book Club, which the publisher was planning to form in the spring of that year. Orwell accepted the commission at once and embarked on a tour of the Black Country, Lancashire and Yorkshire which occupied the period 31 January to 25 March 1936, returning to London at the end of March. Travelling partly on foot and partly by public transport his journey took him to Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the Potteries, Macclesfield, Manchester (where he stayed five days), Wigan (two weeks), Liverpool (one week), Sheffield (four days), Leeds (one week), and Barnsley (two weeks). Throughout this time he met with miners, trade union officials, officials of the NUWM — National Unemployed Workers’ Movement — and others in an attempt to study housing conditions and to see for himself the effects of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment on the lives of ordinary people. He recorded his impressions in a diary which was found among his papers after his death and subsequently published in the Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters.34
KeywordsBurning Depression Cage Steam Shale
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