Down and Out in Paris and London – BBC Radio Reading

written by George Orwell

This writing is a memoir in two parts. Its theme is of the poverty in the two cities. The first part is an account of living in destitution within Paris and the experience of working low paying jobs in restaurant kitchens. The second part is a travelogue of life in and around London from the tramp’s perspective, with descriptions of the types of low cost available and some of the characters to be found living on the margins of society.

After giving up his position as a policeman in Burma, Orwell moved to rooms in Portobello Road, London at the end of 1927 when he was 24. While writing for various journals, he took to investigative tramping, collecting material for use in “The Spike”, his first published essay, and for use in ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.

In spring of 1928 he moved to Paris and lived at 6 Rue du Pot in the Latin Quarter, a bohemian quarter with a cosmopolitan flavour. American writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald had lived in the same area. Following the Russian Revolution there was a large Russian emigre community in Paris. Orwell’s aunt Nellie Limouzin lived in Paris and helped him with financial support. He led an active social life, worked on his novels and had several articles published in avant-garde journals.

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