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The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)

by George Orwell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,491493,714 (3.81)145
In the 1930s Orwell was sent by a socialist book club to investigate the appalling mass unemployment in the industrial north of England. He went beyond his assignment to investigate the employed as well-" to see the most typical section of the English working class." Foreword by Victor Gollancz.
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» See also 145 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
A look into the difficult lives of the English working class in the early 20th century. Intelligent and insightful.
  trrpatton | Mar 20, 2024 |
A non-fiction classic written in 1936. This was a wonderful expose of working class life, mostly in the Yorkshire region, Barnsley, specifically. Orwell goes into great detail about those who mine. My favorite part was the description of the rooming houses in which many lived. It was a bit tedious when explaining the dole stipulations (of which there were dozens). In the end, the author was convinced that socialism was the way to go. He dropped this book off at the publishers on his way to fight in the Spanish Civil War. He had quite changed his mind about socialism by the time he returned home. A great read. It's only 99 cents on Amazon. (Kindle version) 202 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Sep 15, 2023 |
Poverty and living conditions among British miners in the 1930's. Excellent reporting, just the facts, no need to sensationalize. Displays unregulated capitalism's genius in maximizing profits by keeping workers and their families on the brink of starvation. Shouldn't be eye opening, but it is. ( )
  Cr00 | Apr 1, 2023 |
The first part was interesting, when he lived in lodging houses in a coal mining settlement and explored the lives of coal miners. What a life!

After that, he got bogged down, going on about socialism, and after awhile I lost interest. Bernie Sanders is more interesting on that subject. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
This is a disappointing Orwell book that I couldn’t get through.

It was a long section about mining and mines that proved too much for me; Orwell was down the mines several times, apparently, and experienced for himself how difficult it was, not the actual mining, but just the crawling for miles to where the coal could be got to. Orwell was tall, which didn’t make it easier.

I didn’t see much about Wigan, if anything.

Most of the paragraphs were long, which made the book even more unreadable.

So, not a book I would recommend. ( )
  IonaS | Feb 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
(Retracing...)
Orwell said he would find little to interest him in Barnsley, which was a kindness compared to his verdict on Sheffield: "It seems to me, by daylight, one of the most appalling places I have ever seen." From his two months in the north, one image stayed with him above all others; a pale young woman "with the usual draggled, exhausted look … I thought how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling in the gutter in a back alley in Wigan, in the bitter cold, prodding a stick up a blocked drain. At that moment she looked up and caught my eye, and her expression was as desolate as I have ever seen; it struck me that she was thinking just the same as I was."

We cannot know if he was right, but it seems a rare moment, in a book about human sympathy, of connection between the man raised to be an officer of the empire and the proletariat that, however much he wished to embrace, repelled him still. Jack Hilton, the man who set him on the road to Wigan, hated the book, judging it a failure and falling out with the author. "So George went to Wigan and he might have stayed at home. He wasted money, energy and wrote piffle," was his damning verdict. Victor Gollancz disagreed, but with strong reservations. He finally published it as part of the Left Book Club series, but included a foreword in which he rebutted Orwell's colourful views on the "fruit-drinkers" of the middle-class liberal elite, fearful that his readership might take offence. In a later edition, against the author's wishes, he deleted the polemical second section altogether.
 

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Orwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Demeter, LizCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, VictorForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoggart, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first sound in the mornings was the clumping of the mill-girls' clogs down the cobbled street.
Foreword:  This Foreword is addressed to members of the Left book Club (to whom The Road to Wigan Pier is being sent as the March Choice), and to them alone:  members of the general public are asked to ignore it.
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[those who live in Letchworth] every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal wearer, sex maniac, escaped Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist and feminist in England,
If only the sandals and the pistachio-coloured shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaller, and creeping Jesus sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercise quietly.
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In the 1930s Orwell was sent by a socialist book club to investigate the appalling mass unemployment in the industrial north of England. He went beyond his assignment to investigate the employed as well-" to see the most typical section of the English working class." Foreword by Victor Gollancz.

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