The other George Orwell

From The Telegraph:

Orwell1_1969808g 'Even if we thought he was famous, we wouldn’t have thought we’d be talking about him 60 years later,” says Henry Dakin, reflecting on the status, at the time of his death in 1950, of his uncle Eric Blair – known to the world as George Orwell. “Many people make their name and, after a bit, they pass from view, don’t they? But he’s still a name to conjure with.” He laughs quietly. “We’re happy to bask in reflected glory.” His sisters, Jane Morgan and Lucy Bestley, agree, chiming in with expressions of pride and amazement. We’re sitting in the Keswick home shared by the two women (Dakin lives not far away, on the other side of Derwentwater) and it’s almost equally extraordinary that all three are still around and able to reminisce clearly about “Uncle Eric” and the days spent with him long, long ago. Morgan is now 88, Dakin 85 and Bestley is 80.

Although it’s Orwell’s adopted son Richard, now in his late sixties, who bears his father’s family name, the trio – the offspring of Orwell’s eldest sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey, a civil servant – are his closest surviving blood relatives. It’s hard not to detect, or possibly project, inherited traits as they chat over coffee: in Morgan’s writerly turn of phrase and spirited determination, in Dakin’s wry, often detached manner, and in the refined, hooded shape of Bestley’s twinkling eyes. It’s incredible to hear first-hand the stories handed on to biographers over the years, especially their experiences on the Scottish west-coast island of Jura, where Orwell lived in frugal isolation and growing ill health with his younger sister Avril while working on Nineteen Eighty-Four. The notorious episode in August 1947, when Orwell’s boat capsized at the Corryvreckan whirlpool, nearly drowning him and Dakin, then 21, Bestley, only 16, and Richard, just three – is relived with much laughter at their uncle’s expense.

More here.