Sold-out Orwell book on second edition

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Luing author Norman Bissell has sold 1,000 copies of his book Barnhill.

The success of the hardback novel about George Orwell’s struggle to finish writing Nineteen Eighty-Four on the isle of Jura, means it is on to its second edition.

A paperback version will follow and interest has also been shown into turning it into a film, said Mr Bissell who co-runs Luing Stores and was awarded a Creative Scotland Artist’s Bursary to research and write the book.

People will soon have a chance to hear more about the Luath Press published book and George Orwell.

Mr Bissell, a director of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and former history teacher, will be at Oban’s Corran Halls on Tuesday March 3 at 11am talking to the town’s Oban U3A group.

On Thursday March 19 at 6pm he will be one of the authors taking part in the Aye Write! festival in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, with Graeme Macrae Burnet and Molly Aitken.

Then on Saturday May 30, from 10am to 4pm, Mr Bissell will be at an event in Rothesay called Dystopias, George Orwell and Scottish Islands in Bank of Ideas. The venue is 17 High Street and he will be joined by Alan Riach, Christopher Priest, Nina Allen and Ken MacLeod.

Tayvallich Village Hall will host a George Orwell on Jura talk on Sunday  June 28 at 5pm.

More dates for the George Orwell on Jura show can be booked by visiting The Touring Network Tourbook at tourbook.live/tours/george-orwell-on-jura-8673.

The 70th anniversary of Orwell’s death was marked last week in a series of Tweets by Mr Bissell @HI_Voices raisingthe profile of life on Luing.

In July 1948, against doctors’ orders to recuperate from tuberculosis in a sanitorium in the south, Orwell decided to go back to Jura instead, a  decision that probably cost him his life, said Mr Bissell.

‘His determination to meet the publisher’s deadline of the beginning of December 1948 saw him reworking the manuscript, despite his deteriorating health. He insisted on being present whilst
the manuscript was being typed, to ensure his copious notes were deciphered correctly and incorporated but was unwilling to leave Jura. Despite his requests, no typist was willing to journey out to the island, so he typed it himself sitting up in bed. Resolved to have five copies to send out as required, he laboriously typed these up himself – a decision that really destroyed the last of his health,’ he added.

The December deadline was met, but Orwell exhausted himself in the process and never recovered. He was admitted to a sanitorium in Gloucestershire, then to London’s University College Hospital where he died on January 21 1950.