Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Road To Wigan Pier by George Orwell

First published in the UK by Victor Gollancz in March 1937. Canongate audiobook narrated by Jeremy Northam published in 2012.

One of my Essential General Election Reads for 2017.

How I got this book:
Bought from Audible

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A graphic and biting polemic that still holds a fierce political relevance and impact despite being written over half a century ago. First published in 1937 it charts George Orwell's observations of working-class life during the 1930s in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire. His depictions of social injustice and rising unemployment, the dangerous working conditions in the mines amid general squalor and hunger also bring together many of the ideas explored in his later works and novels.

When I first finished listening to my audiobook of The Road To Wigan Pier I felt completely steamrollered. It is a truly astounding book. I think, had I encountered it 80 years ago, it would have been life-changing, but even now there is still so much that is completely relevant and it is interesting to see how much of Orwell's future prognosis has come to pass. In fact, thinking back over Orwell's words again, four years after my initial listen, I realised that great swathes of the British people have moved closer in social situation to their 1930s counterparts. We might have the sixth richest economy in the world, but the majority of us only catch glimpses of that wealth from afar, not actually getting a genuine share.

 I am sure that much of my enjoyment of The Road To Wigan Pier was due to Jeremy Northam's excellent and impassioned narration. The second part moves from social observation to political ideology and, had I been just reading, I possibly would have got lost and given up. However, having this audio edition made it feel as though the different ideas and perspectives were being explained just to me(!) and I now have a far better understanding of the politics of the time.

Etsy Find!
by The Art Of The North in
Hebden Bridge, England

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Books by George Orwell / Sociology / Books from England


  1. I'm starting to think Orwell's true blue visionary. And that spells doom for everyone. :/

    1. I have my fingers crossed that things over here don't get as bad as they were then, but society does like repeating its cycles :-(