At the end of summer 2017, Anna Funder found herself at a moment of peak overload. Family obligations and household responsibilities were crushing her soul and taking her away from her writing deadlines. She needed help, and George Orwell came to her rescue. After rereading and savoring Orwell’s books, she devoured six major biographies, thus she read about his forgotten wife, and it was a revelation.
Eileen O’Shaughnessy married Orwell in 1936. O’Shaughnessy was a writer herself, and her literary brilliance not only shaped Orwell’s work, but her practical common sense saved his life. But why and how, Funder wondered, was she written out of their story? Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder re-creates the Orwells’ marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War in London. As she peeks behind the curtain of Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer—and what it is to be a wife.
A breathtakingly intimate view of one of the most important literary marriages of the 20th century, Wifedom speaks to our present moment as much as it illuminates the past. Genre-bending and utterly original, it is an ode to the unsung work of women everywhere.
Anna Funder is the author of Stasiland and All That I Am, and the novella The Girl with the Dogs. Stasiland, hailed as a ‘classic’, tells true stories of ordinary people who heroically resisted the communist dictatorship of East Germany, and of others who worked for the Stasi. In 2004 Stasiland won the UK’s premier award for non-fiction, the Samuel Johnson Prize, and was a finalist for many other awards. Anna’s novel All That I Am won many literary awards including Australia’s most prestigious, the Miles Franklin Prize, and was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Both books are international bestsellers, published in over 24 countries. Originally trained as an international human rights lawyer, Anna is a former DAAD Fellow in Berlin, Australia Council Fellow, and Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. She has lived in Paris, Berlin, and Brooklyn, and now lives in Sydney, Australia.
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