A horror competition

Published by: mike on 4th Aug 2017 | View all blogs by mike

I crossed the Thames yesterday to book a seat for a play about Sonia and George Orwell.

This is performed at a pub near the Angel tube station called ‘The Old Red Lion’.  If you go ‘Jobs and Opportunities’ - on their website - a  competition for horror plays is promoted.  (Short plays are required.)  There are some horror writers on ‘Word Cloud’ Perhaps you might be interested?  

    But the closing date is near the end of August, so  there is little time.  A   cobbler’s shop, local to the  theatre,  is called ‘Achilles Heels’ but I cannot think if a plot -  horror is not my thing.   I don’t know about the Orwell play,but it might be interesting to see how Orwell is portrayed on the stage.  There is a Saturday matinee if you are in the South East of England.


    I seem to write very different material to other word clouders, so there is little point in my writing to agents,publishers  or going to World Cloud occasions,  My face just does not fit. 

    I had been trying to edit a novel that had been published by a grandfather.  It is published so ‘Word Cloud’ would be of no use.  In this case, I would probably do the compete opposite of what anybody might suggest.  My grand father cannot write.  It is a paradox that one of his novels is a minor classic of gothic fiction - yes it is!   But, even is this is established, the novel is unlikely to generate income.  Who now reads Maturin?

   Establishing the novel as a minor classic would  execute a grandfather’s will which is my intention.

     Agents or publishers are out of my loop, as are academics.  There seems to be no place to go?   Self publishing is not an option, because this would be history repeating itself. 

    I am the executor of the estate of a grandfather who cannot write and I am also the executor of the estate of an aunt who can write very well.  I think I might be the weak link here.   But I saw the preview of a play a few weeks ago and wrote out my opinions.  The press night was a few weeks later and my opinions were close to 100% to those of the critics.  This is the play with the songs of Bob Dylan.

     The play got one bad review from an American stage magazine.  The critic accuses the playwright of using stock characters from American fiction. 

    There are only three things you have to know about my grandfather.    He met Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa; his father wrote the first life of Shelley; he wrote a famous march and he was mad.  What would a literary agent make of this paragraph?








  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 11 months ago
    Mike, purely out of curiosity, was your grandfather the brother of the artist G P Nerli who also met R L Stevenson in Samoa (and painted a well-known portrait of him)?
  • mike
    by mike 11 months ago
    Dear Athelstone,
    My grandfather was in Samoa around the same time as Nerli, but I would not know if they had met. There is no family connection. He was still writing about Stevenson in the 1940's and someone asked his wife about the memories and she replied, 'just wait, I think he might have found some more.'

    If his travels books are severely edited and turned into one volume, you might well get a classic of travel writing but the voyage would be from 1907 to 1950 and the voyage is undertaken by a high romantic.
    I notice the artist had a family connection with the romantic movement - Medwin - but I had not come across his name before,
    The novel is about mad monks and a TV thought screen. But the monks are really the literary establishment of the thirties. This is where an editing problem occurs. There are two versions of the novel and, in the first novel, the hero/anti-hero is portrayed as a romantic figure and this has rather vanished in the second version. But where can you get help of this sort? Everything is about income generation now.
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 11 months ago
    It seemed rather a coincidence that Medwin also wrote a noted life of Shelley.
  • mike
    by mike 11 months ago
    There were memories of Shelley that were passed off as biography, the most famous being Trelawney. You could say the great grandfather's book was the first unauthorised biography. It was published in 1858. It is a book of the period as Mary Shelley censored Shelley''s poetry and the radical stuff was omitted which led to a public 'white Shelley'
    I did not know of the book and spent some time researching it's author. He married the only daughter of a leading journalist of the period which gives me a literary background as far back as the Regency period. Which is not much use! I should be Jeremy Paxman!
    Mrs Orwell. The play is certainly worth a trip across London. My face almost fitted. During the interval, I exchanged opinions with the woman sitting next to me and could just about cope. At one point, Sonia Orwell comments, ‘I must go, Cyril Connolly’s nappy needs changing.‘ This is about the only mention made of Connolly , but it says a lot about Sonia Orwell,
    A question is raised. Did Orwell want a mother for his son or a mother for his literary estate? One suspects the latter but, in Sonia’s defense, it could be argued that she had been handed a poisoned chalice. But I do not think this issue was raised. If I wanted to portray a literary agent, I would make her/him a similar character to Mrs Orwell.
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 11 months ago
    I don't know whether it's sad or simply a curiosity that somebody as sharp, intelligent and as well-lived as Sonia Brownwell, should end up better known by the misnomer of 'Sonia Orwell' simply because she was married to Eric Blair for fourteen weeks.
  • mike
    by mike 11 months ago
    Mrs Orwell
    Dear Athelstone, The issue is raised in the play which ends with the death of Orwell, so it is not pursued. This is what I meant by the poisoned chalice, Sonia is well played and rather convincing but gave little away. The playwright threw in a wild card - Lucien Freud - but I don't want to do a spoiler,
    Now! Stock characters. Imagine an Oxbridge educated attractive woman, well connected with the media world. She is witty and clever and works as a literary agent. But she cannot write, Her client is the complete opposite. Working class, 'ugly' uneducated and, presumably, simple minded, She writes romantic fiction from her imagination - perhaps Shades of Grey stuff, She can write, Between them they make money, but their relationship is a power struggle, The play '''Queen Anne' considers a similar power struggle. Queen Anne is dominated by Sarah Churchill who manipulates the Queen for her own and her husband;s interests. Anne begins to realise this and this is the story.
    Apparently a film is being made in which Queen Anne is a lesbian, But I don't really know. The struggle between the writer and the agent would be somewhat similar.
    Of course, the situation with Sonia Orwell is rather different. But another character in the play is Frederick Warburg - the publisher of Animal Farm. He berates her over her executive powers on
    Animal Farm. The author of the play should be congratulated in putting across so much information in a short time. Sonia is known as the wife of George Orwell and, had she not married him, would she be known at all? One of Lucien Freud's conquests, perhaps?
    It is different matter, but an uncle told me not to waste my time writing about madman who wrote rubbish. I should write my own material Which I have done
  • Athelstone
    by Athelstone 11 months ago
    Well, I think she had a little more going for her than a relationship with Lucien Freud.
  • mike
    by mike 11 months ago
    She went off with a previous lover - someone she did love - shortly after Orwell's death. A book had been written about Sonia Orwell. This was about ten years ago. I remember reading it but cannot recall much detail. I did not know it, but the actress playing Orwell had been an ex-girlfriend of a prince of the realm. It is irrelevant. I thought she played her part well and certainly looked the part - very smart, very fifties. In total contrast to Orwell, If I had known about her ex-royalty status and, presumably, hr own position in the class system, I might have thought she was playing herself.
    While Orwell leaves his hospital bed for x-rays, Sonia is seduced by Lucian Freud. On Orwell's bed. This is seen by his publisher, Warburg, so presumably, it might have happened. I don't know what will happen to the play, Sometimes plays from the fringe transfer to the West End. But it might not have this cast. Orwell is well conveyed by the actor. However, I do not know? Perhaps a BBC film?
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