An article by John Carey about George Orwell’s son Richard who recollects his childhood with his father on the island of Jura.
Richard remembers these years on the island as a time of almost unbroken happiness. Looking back, what particularly gratifies him is the freedom he was given there. He fished from a dinghy for mackerel and coley, and wandered at will, wearing stout farm boots to protect him from adders.
John Carey is surprised at Richard’s happy memories of life with a father whose face is gaunt and whose reputation is one of grim truth telling. But Orwell’s letters from that time are full of enjoyment of the country life as well as affection for Richard. He found it great fun having a kid and watching him develop. Richard’s interest in mechanical things rather than in words caused Orwell to hope Richard would not become a writer but do something practical. Richard became an engineer.
A child brought up by kindly adults, and who loved the outdoors would have been joyful at Barnhill in Jura, with the sea to fish and swim in and a wide terrain to explore. I visited there the year before last and thought that Orwell’s illness aside, this must have been a happy time for Orwell, and his son.