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George Orwell

Coming Up for Air

Publisher: © 1939 Victor Gollancz Ltd., GB, London.

The First edition

By Daniel J. Leab:

This conventional novel deals with George Bowling, an insurance-company employee, fat and 45, who lives in one of London's depressing suburbs with his nagging wife and irritating children. He dreams of his past in the English countryside before World War I. A windfall gives him the opportunity to return to Lower Binfield and he is thoroughly disillusioned. The countryside has given way to housing estates, and his favorite secret fishing pond has been drained and is a dump for tin cans. The novel received respectable reviews. Orwell later said the novel which appeared in June 1939 just weeks before the outbreak of World War II had been “blitzed out of existence”, but it was published in an edition of 2,109 copies, with a second printing of 1,050 (with overs). The second printing was “ordered six weeks after publication of the first printing”. But for the outbreak of the war Coming Up For Air might have done better commercially.

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