George Orwell's London

A Walking Tour

About the tour guides

Diarmaid Ward

My name is Diarmaid Ward, I’ve lived in London for 12 years after a childhood in the north of Ireland.

I first became interested in Orwell when I studied Animal Farm as part of GCSE English and the Russian Revolution as part of GCSE History – I was hooked. I went on to study Orwell as part of my degree in Politics and English. 

Over the years I have read most of his works, and I have explored the historical and political circumstances of his time: the Spanish Civil War, the second world war and the general emergence of totalitarian regimes around the world. I admire Orwell for his progressive politics, his engaging prose style and his passion for good tea.

I feel privileged to live in London -- it is a magnificent city with a great diversity and energy. In many ways it is a different city today to Orwell's time, but one can still walk the streets he walked, see the magnificent buildings in which he worked as a war-time progagandist or reporter, and sup a cup of tea or strong beer in one of the pubs that survive since Victorian times. Seeing these places brings his writing to life, and gives a unique insight into his thinking.

Just like my degree, I like to think that my tour is a good blend of Orwell’s writing itself and the social, political and historical context of his work. 

I look forward to meet you on one of our upcoming tours and sharing with you my twin passions: George Orwell and London!

David Poyser

My name is David Poyser. I qualified as London Blue Badge tour guide in 2018. I first lived in London in 1973 and I have lived here most of the time since then.

After my first degree in Politics, I came to London to do a postgrad in journalism, and it is the combination of Orwell’s political thoughts and the way he combines these with his abilities as a journalist that inspires me.

During a twenty year period in television production working as an award-winning Series Producer for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, whenever I got the opportunity, I really enjoyed the chance to unearth parts of London’s history - a place where most of us who live here just take for granted. 

Since leaving broadcasting, I have been very involved in local and national and international politics. I became Mayor of the London Borough of Islington in 2018, a Borough with a huge history, including as a home to George Orwell in the 1940s. Whether you have local tenants on estates wanting more cameras, or people wanting Brits to have ID cards as they do in many continental countries, the word ‘Orwellian’ is always on everyone’s lips.

While Animal Farm and 1984 are warnings for history are about the role of the state gone very wrong, Orwell was also a great socialist and believer in the role of the state - the fascinating question is whether Orwell himself would have seen any proposed change as either the ’thin end of the wedge to an Orwellian nightmare’ or ‘part of the long slow march to a fairer society’. 

What we do know is that if Orwell was alive today, his thoughts on the issues would have been extremely well written.