George Orwell on Writing - in the Newman Arms

Posted by Simon Plant on Monday, April 8, 2013 Under: Writers

George Orwell on Writing - in the Newman Arms

One of the pubs we visit on the tour is The Newman Arms. It's a great pub and unusual in that it's one of very few pubs in the area still owned outright by a family, rather than a brewery. I'll go into more detail about the pub in a later post, but I love the place. And it's appeared in some famous films. But perhaps most famously it's where George Orwell used to drink and is widely believed to be the template for the Proles pub in his novel 1984. You can hear some of his description of the place if you come on our tour. 

We're also going to be starting writing retreats soon, so I thought you might like to see this extract from one of George's non-fiction books, Politics and the English Language, as I know many of you are writers too.

 George Orwell’s advice to writers:

Beware the octopus that has sung its swan song.’

 “Get one’s meanings as clear as one can through pictures or sensations. Afterwards one can choose– not simply accept – the phrases that will best cover the situation.”

In other words, get the movie in your head right and your thinking clear. Visualise every detail as you write. Or, fall foul of the octopus that has sung its swan song, a howler of a mixed metaphorical creature Orwell ridicules for our instruction. 

Orwell’s six rules for writing to cut out “humbug and vagueness.”

  • Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive voice when you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

More in George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

In : Writers 

Tags: george orwell  newman arms  fitzrovia  writing  workshops  literature  pub crawl  tours 
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About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' ( I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. ( This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station and a podcast on our site. If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


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