Orwell Discovery/Paterson Festival – Poetry News Roundup October 16th

In today’s poetry news round-up we look at the possible signed copy of a George Orwell book purchased at auction. We also have an article about the Paterson Poetry Festival.

Orwell Collector Makes Exciting Discovery?

A rare first edition collection of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four recently surfaced at an auction. The copy, which had been owned by Leon Gellert, the Adelaide born reviewer, was snapped up by a school teacher with an interest in George Orwell.

70 years ago, Gellert reviewed the novel and urged people to snap up copies. His full review of the book was published in the Sydney Herald in 1949.

Gellert was not just a reviewer, he was also one of the finest war poets in Australia, although it was not this provenance that drew the teacher to this copy of the book, but rather the inscription in the front of the copy. The inside cover is inscribed “from George Orwell”.

Mr Moore was surprised by the inscription but found it hard to believe that the signature could possibly be true. The book was being auctioned for more than he could really afford but at the same time it was a lot less than he had seen other signed copies of Orwell’s work go for and so he bought it

At the time that nineteen eighty-four was published Orwell was in hospital, having been admitted with Tuberculosis. It is known that he signed copies of the book for some members of staff and also his visitors. Moore wondered if Gellert had visited him in the hospital. However, his research indicated that the reviewer had not been in England at the time. In fact, further research suggested that the two had never met.

The answer to the signature eventually came to light in an article from 1960 which indicated that Gellert faked the signature himself. He didn’t do this for reasons of fraud, but rather to dissuade people from borrowing his books, as signed copies were more valuable and it gave him the perfect excuse not to lend them out

There are almost certainly other books out there with messages from the “author” to Gellert, a part of his vast collection that he preferred to keep to himself. The article is very clear that he wrote in quite a lot of his books this way!

Paterson Poetry Festival

The city of Paterson, which inspired the poet William Carlos Williams and was the birthplace of Allen Ginsberg held its second poetry festival earlier this month. This year, the annual event attracted more than 300 visitors.

Participants were invited to read their own poetry during the event, as well as poetry by other poets.

It is hoped that the festival will help the city cultivate its artistic community. Last year they named their first poet laureate and it has been a part of her role to help organise the poetry festival which has already grown considerably since its inception. In fact, she has already begun planning next year’s festival.

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