I’ve been reading the brilliant Orwell Diaries website, which puts up pages from Orwell’s diaries of 70 years ago day by day. It is now 31 August 1939 and war is imminent. The British government has passed the Emergency Powers Act.:-
Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet. [Wireless 6 pm]
It is just after the signing of the Russo-German pact, as Orwell calls the Treaty of Non-Aggression between the Third German Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. M. Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow. Manchester Guardian
These menacing national and world events are juxtaposed against his observations of his garden and the natural world:-
Blackberries are ripening in this district. Finches beginning to flock. Very heavy mists in the early mornings.
Autumn and war advance together.
Orwell seemed to read about half a dozen newspapers every day, from the Daily Telegraph to the Daily Worker, and pages from those papers are included on the site. He was also a great collector of pamphlets.
E’s [Orwell’s wife Eileen] report of speeches in Hyde Park suggests that Communist Party are taking more left wing line but not anxious to thrash out questions of Russo-German pact.
There have been other entries of going to hear what the speakers in Hyde Park were talking about for a running update of the views and feelings of fringe parties, at a time when they were far more significant than they are now. The equivalent these days would be to read partisan political blogs, and for pamphlets we have reports like those put out by Quillam or the Centre for Social Cohesion or whatever that are uploaded as PDFs for us to print out.