The Welsh poet W H Davies reviewed George Orwell’s memoir Down and Out in Paris and London for the New Statesman in 1933. The choice of reviewer was interesting; Davies had lived as a tramp for much of his life, and had gained notoriety after the publication of his work The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908), which had a preface by George Bernard Shaw. In his review Davies praises the accuracy of Orwell’s portrayal of the poor in London and Paris, calling it ‘the kind of book I like to read, where I get the truth in chapters of real life’.
Orwell followed Davies’ work, and his biographers believe that he was familiar with The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp at the time of writing Down and Out. In 1943 Orwell reviewed Davies’ Collected Poems for the Observer, admiring the simplicity of his style and comparing him to the romantic poet William Blake.
- Full title:
- 'Confessions of a Down and Out'
- 18 March 1933, London
- Statesman and National Publishing
- Periodical / Newspaper / Ephemera
- New Statesman and Nation, W H Davies
- Usage terms
New Statesman: © New Statesman. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.
W H Davies: This material is in the Public Domain.
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- John Sutherland
- Literature 1900–1950, Power and conflict
John Sutherland describes the biographical and historical events that produced George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which combines memoir with a study of poverty in two European cities in the late 1920s.