New Tourism Museum: George Orwell’s Birthplace

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel rumblings

Although George Orwell was born in India, he lived there only a year before he was brought back to England by his mother. The house where he was born in 1903 in Motihari in Bihar state has fallen into a sorry state but yesterday the Bihar government announced that it would restore the house as a tourist attraction. The project would be completed in just 3 months.

Why mention this when there are so many other things happening in tourism?

 For one thing it surprised me that there is no Orwell Museum in the UK. (unless you know differently) There is, however, a blue plaque on a house in the Portobello Road in London. Given that two of his books, 1984 and Animal Farm are  famous throughout  the world seems odd. Secondly, given the rise of literary festivals, it seems surprising that there is not one linked to him given that the word “Orwellian” is so widespread as a term where the state intrudes on everyday personal life and that two of his books explore everyday social life.

That Bihar, a state not widely known over here for tourism other than the links with Buddhism, is prepared to restore one house in such a short space of time to widen its tourism appeal should give encouragement to all those places who wearily trot out the mantra that there is nothing worth visiting here.

In the UK, maybe Wigan is the place associated with Orwell because of his book, “The Road to Wigan Pier” even though the pier was gone by the time Orwell visited the town. Wigan has traded on his name but there is no museum there nor does it seem any celebration of his life in the town given that on January 21st 2010 is the 60th anniversary of his death. I seem to remember some Wigan councillor saying many years ago that heritage is not the draw it once was as they closed down the two museums they once had.

Just as well that some far thinking people in Bihar are prepared to think otherwise.

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