Well, where did it go? George Orwell tribute goes missing

Thursday, 14th October 2010

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Published: 14 October, 2010
by CONRAD LANDIN

GEORGE Orwell once quipped: “At 50, everyone has the face they deserve.”

But would the author of 1984 and Animal Farm have offered the same sentiment to the vandals who have escaped with a frieze of his own features?

Mystery surrounds who chipped away at a commemorative plaque marking Orwell’s links to South End Green in Hampstead, completely removing the writer’s face.

There was specu­lation in nearby neighbourhood centres that a fanatical lover of Orwell’s work may have taken it as a souvenir. The plaque marks the location of Booklover’s Corner, the secondhand shop where Orwell worked in the 1930s. He lived in a flat above it, which is now Le Pain Quotidien bakery.

Staff said they were astonished to see the frieze had been wrenched away.

The theft is thought to have taken place during the past three months although those who pass by the scene regularly have differing accounts about when they last saw it intact.

Louise Sorling, the bakery’s supervisor, said: “About two months ago a man came into the shop and was talking about its history, and asked me if I knew that Orwell’s face had gone. It’s a pity, because lots of people come to see the place where he worked, and it’s a shame people feel they can just vandalise this part of our history.”

Russell Oppenheimer, who runs nearby business Blue Daisy, said: “It’s terrible. 

“It’s a site of great interest to local people, and I’d like to see more commemoration of the fact that Orwell worked there. Maybe this is an opportunity to try to get something more substantial put up.”

Orwell worked at the bookshop for a year from 1934, writing about his experiences in an essay entitled Bookshop Memories as well as fictionalising them in his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He later moved to nearby Parliament Hill, and Lawford Road in Kentish Town.

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