Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


George Orwell, Sonia Brownell and the Orwell Archive: the 70th Anniversary

18 February 2020, 4:45 pm–6:00 pm

orwell card

Be in the room with exclusive access to the original letters, photographs and objects that connect George Orwell and Sonia Brownell

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







The Orwell Foundation


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

On 13th October 1949, Sonia Brownell and George Orwell were married in University College Hospital, where Orwell was being treated for tuberculosis. Orwell died three months later. We will be in the room with exclusive access to the original letters, photographs and objects that connect Orwell and Sonia, using them as the basis for a discussion about their relationship and Sonia’s life.

The event, taking place as part of a day of activities to celebrate the 2019 Orwell Memorial Lecture, is hosted by Orwell’s biographer, D. J. Taylor, author of Orwell: The Life and most recently The Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature (2019), UCL's Head of Special Collection, Sarah Aitchison, who will introduce the archive, and Professor Jean Seaton, Director of the Orwell Foundation.

The Orwell Lecture, given in memory of the author, essayist and journalist George Orwell, has been given annually since 1989 and has attracted notable speakers including Dr Rowan Williams, Dame Hilary Mantel, Robin Cook and Ruth Davidson MSP. Speakers are tasked with discussing any topic 'Orwell might have been interested in'.

This year's lecturer is Daniel Finkelstein, who will be speaking on the topic 'How to Predict an Election' later in the evening.

Originally held at the University of London, Birkbeck and the the University of Sheffield, the Orwell Memorial Lecture now takes place each year at University College London, home of the UNESCO-registered Orwell Archive, the most comprehensive body of research material relating to the author's life anywhere. The Orwell Foundation is based at UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies. The Orwell Memorial Lecture is generously sponsored by Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son.