Physical address: Grid reference NR705970, Jura
Phone number: +44 1786 850 274
Business hours: By arrangement
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WRITERS often say that they’d like to be secluded in the middle of nowhere, with no connection to the outside world and all the time and head space they need to finish their book. And that’s exactly what George Orwell got when he moved to the remote island of Jura in the Scottish Hebrides in 1946.
Having discussed with his wife, Eileen, a move out of the hustle and bustle of London life prior to the end of the War, Orwell ultimately decided against it, viewing the possibility of being able to escape as a privilege that less wealthy people could not afford. When his book, Animal Farm, was published in 1945 and became an instant success, the temptation to escape from the fame that ensued rose again, and paired with the death of his wife and the end of the War, the author paid a visit to Jura and decided to move there the following year.
Demonstrating an ongoing desire to avoid the celebrity brought about by Animal Farm, Orwell used his birth name, Eric Blair, for the three years he spent on the island, although he received mail twice a week and occasional visitors from home. His sister, Avril, and adopted son, Richard, also lived in the remote cottage of Barnhill – a building more than one mile’s walk from its nearest neighbour. Despite suffering from tuberculosis, the disease that forced him to leave Barnhill and eventually led to his death, Orwell attempted to develop farmland around the cottage, growing vegetables and taking his son out fishing in the waters along the coast. Most notable of his activities there, however, was his writing. Visitors reported that he spent the majority of his time upstairs, frantically banging away on his typewriter, trying to finish his last novel, eventually published as Nineteen Eighty-Four, before his death.
The Ardlussa estate, and Barnhill cottage, remains in the ownership of the Fletcher family, from whom Orwell rented it, and is still available for rent. Reports from recent visitors suggest that the journey is no less rugged 70 years on, and may even be worse. 4WD or access by boat is the best way to reach the isolated building.
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