I discovered a day or so ago that George Orwell wrote 1984 on the Scottish island of Jura (Google map). In 1946 he rented Barnhill in the north-east corner of the island. It’s still there:
There are only about 200 people living on Jura, and his nearest neighbour was a mile further north up the coast. The nearest town was about 25 miles away down a mostly potholed road. Mail was only delivered twice a week. There was no electricity. There may not have been running water either. The house was lit by paraffin lamps, and cooking was done on a Calor gas stove. It was heated by coal and peat fires.
He was joined there by his young adopted son Richard and his nanny, and by his sister Avril. And once he started writing, he’d spend all day typing upstairs in his bedroom or study, chain-smoking black shag roll-ups, and in the evening go fishing or checking lobster pots.
It was during this period that he learned that he had tuberculosis, and he spent more and more time in bed, until eventually in late 1948, the manuscript completed, he was forced to leave Jura. The book was published in June 1949, by which time Orwell was in hospital. He died in January 1950. (More links here and here)
It was Orwell’s friend David Astor, editor of the Observer, who had first suggested Jura to Orwell. He owned an estate on the island overlooking Tarbert Bay, a few miles south of Barnhill.
A frequent visitor in recent years has been David Cameron. Tarbert Lodge is owned by his wife Samantha’s stepfather, Viscount Astor. No doubt Cameron has visited Barnhill. And he may even have read 1984.
And since we now live in Orwellian-nightmare-smoking-ban Britain (what would the chain-smoking Orwell have made of that?), with Big Brother in the form of Tobacco Control, and Thought Police speaking politically-correct Newspeak, it might be said that what George Orwell dreamt up on one end of Jura, David Cameron now implements and supervises from the other end.