Orwell Diaries 1938-1942


New viceroy of India to be appointed shortly. No clue as to who he will be. Some say General Auchinleck – who, it is said, gets on well with leftwing Indians.

Long talk with Bradner, who is back after his 6 months tour in India. [1] His conclusions so depressing that I can hardly bring myself to write them down. Briefly – affairs are much worse in India than anyone here is allowed to realise, the situation is in fact retrievable but won’t be retrieved because the government is determined to make no real concessions, hell will break loose when and if there is a Japanese invasion, and our broadcasts are utterly useless because nobody listens to them. Bradner did say, however, that the Indians listen to BBC news, because they regard it as more truthful than that given out by Tokio or Berlin. He considers that we should broadcast news and music and nothing else. This is what I have been saying for some time past.

[1] Laurence Bradner (1903-?) author and lecturer in English literature in India for twelve years before the war, was employed by the BBC as Intelligence Officer, Eastern Service, 1941-44. In 1954 his study George Orwell was published. Pages 8-9 give a succinct insight to Orwell at the BBC:

“Everyone liked and respected him and he was the inspiration of that rudimentary Third Programme which was sent out to the Indian student. He soon sensed that the audience for the programme was not so large as was thought by the senior officials and, before I went to India early in 1942 to find out, he gave a great deal of time to discussing the problems with me. I found that our programmes were at a time of day when nobody was listening and that they could hardly be heard because the signal was so weak. Very few students had access to wireless sets…

I was always grateful to Orwell while we worked together in the B.B.C. He laughed very readily at the nonsense that went on, and made it tolerable. This did not interfere with his sense of responsibility, for he knew how important radio propaganda could be, if intelligently organised, and he worked very hard on his own talks, which were always good and usually brilliant. His voice was a great handicap. Thin and flat, it did not go over well on shortwave broadcasting”. [The quality of Orwell’s voice had been badly affected by his being shot through the throat when fighting in Spain.]

Bradner goes on to refer to the proposal to put into print the good talks that were not being heard, and it was he who suggested that Blair broadcast under the name Orwell (see CW, XIV, pp. 89 and 100-2). After the war, he was Director of Publications for the British Council.