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Welcome to the George Garrett Archive Project



The project, set up by Writing on the Wall with the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund, celebrates and preserves the legacy of the Liverpool born writer, George Garrett (1896-1966)

In partnership with Writing on the Wall as part of WoWFEST18 – Crossing Borders, The George Garrett Archive Project Presents:

A Tale of Two Georges: Orwell and Garrett on the Road to Wigan Pier

Friday 25th May
Venue: Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1TH
Time: 7pm
Tickets: £8/£4


“I was very greatly impressed by Garrett,” George Orwell wrote in his 1936 diary following their meeting when George Garrett, merchant seaman, writer and founder member of Liverpool’s Unity Theatre showed Orwell around Liverpool when he was researching his seminal book on Poverty, The Road to Wigan Pier. Over 80 years later we bring together Orwell’s son Richard Blair and Garrett’s Grandson Sean Garrett with Daily Mirror Senior Features writer Ros Wynne-Jones, who has been leading The Wigan Pier project, retracing Orwell’s route telling the stories of Austerity Britain today.

Sean Garrett works in a homeless shelter where he sees modern-day poverty in Liverpool close-up, a sharp reminder that the issues highlighted by his grandfather and George Orwell are just as endemic today. He has been a part of the George Garrett Archive Project, launched in 2012 to protect, preserve and disseminate knowledge of George Garrett’s life and work. www.georgegarrettarchive.co.uk

Richard Blair was just three weeks old when he was adopted by George Orwell and his first wife, Eileen. Nine months later Eileen died during an operation, and Richard was brought up by Orwell, and looked after by a nanny and then Orwell’s younger sister, Avril, while Orwell was writing his dystopian masterpiece, 1984, on the remote Scottish Island of Jura. Now a retired engineer, Richard is Trustee of the Orwell Foundation’s awards and the Orwell Youth Prize, which is dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of the life and work of George Orwell, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Ros Wynne-Jones is an award-winning journalist renowned for her campaigning articles exposing injustice and arguing for change. Ros is the Daily Mirror's Senior Feature Writer, responsible for the writes the Real Britain column every Friday in the Daily Mirror campaigning against government cuts and standing up for ordinary people. Ros is an award-winning journalist who has worked in conflict zones around the world from South Sudan to East Timor, Kosovo to Rwanda.

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WoWfest 2018 – CROSSING BORDERS responds to recent national and international political, social and cultural developments around issues of Brexit/The EU, migration, race, inclusion/exclusion, diversity, and nationalism. While Trump talks of building walls, and borders are back on the international agenda, WoWFEST 2018 - Crossing Borders will explore messages of togetherness, hope and inclusivity by building stories and experiences around the thoughts, ideas and hopes of our communities for the society and identity they wish to build for themselves and each other in the wake of Brexit.

Guests include Robert Webb, Lily Allen, Mourid Bargouti, Shami Chakrabarti, Benjamin Zephaniah, Kit De Wall, and many more. Full details and tickets available at www.wowfest.uk

For any ticketing queries email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone the box office during opening hours: 0344 8000410. Call centre is open 9am -9pm Monday - Saturday, 10-5 Sundays and bank holidays.

George Garrett, Merchant Seaman, writer, playwright and founder member of Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, was a radical activist and a ‘militant advocate of tolerance’ who travelled the world and wrote a series of short stories and plays that led George Orwell, who he met and gave guidance and support to in his research for ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, to say, 'I was very greatly impressed by Garrett. Had I known before that it is he who writes under the pseudonym of Matt Low in the Adelphi (a magazine published in the 1920's and 30's) and one or two other places, I would have taken steps to meet him earlier.

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Ten Years On The Parish: The Autobiography and Letters of George Garrett


‘Garrett was all about truth. He worked hard to discover truth.
He worked harder to express it. And most of all, he lived it.
And that’s why you should read this book.’

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, from the foreword to Ten years On The Parish.

Ten Years On The Parish, published here for the first time since it was written in the late 1930s, shines a light on the hardships and poverty endured by many in the years between the wars, including Garrett, who through his writing and his activism, became central to working class politics and culture in the 1920s and 30s in Liverpool and beyond.

Garrett also wrote a series of documentary reports about poverty and struggle in the 1920s and 30s, lived in New York in the mid-1920s, writing three plays influenced by the new theatre of Eugene O'Neill, and had a series of short stories published in the 1930s alongside literary greats WH Auden, Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood and George Orwell. In the late 1930s he was a founder member of Liverpool's Unity Theatre.

In Ten Years On The Parish Garrett touches upon his time in New York in the early 1920s, gives a graphic account of the unemployed struggles in Liverpool, including The First Hunger March in 1922, and reveals how he personally, as well as others in the working classes, struggled to survive in Liverpool through the great depression of the 1930s.

Published alongside Ten Years On The Parish are a series of letters exchanged from January 1935 to July 1940 between Garrett and New Writing Editor John Lehmann, which reveal a unique insight into the relationship between a working-class writer and his editor.
Both original texts have extensive introductions by the editors Mike Morris, tony Wailey and Andrew Davies, as well as a foreword by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, which establishes the context and importance of Garrett's work.

This publication gives long-overdue credence to Garrett's importance as a writer and radical, who has come to be regarded as ‘The most significant working-class writer of his generation.’

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The authors and the George Garrett Archive Project volunteers have spoken at conferences and events, and delivered adult education courses on Garrett’s life and work. The have also delivered courses for schools. If you are interested in booking a speaker from the George Garrett Archive Project, or having the group come to your school, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Course Workshops

The George Garrett Archive Project launched a series of workshops in September 2013 that explored George Garrett’s writings – short stories and plays, his involvement in Liverpool’s radical social and upheavals and his life as a Merchant Seaman, with a particular focus on his time spent in America and his involvement with the International Workers of the World (The Wobblies). Course participants gained skills in archiving and conserving Garrett’s work, and have played an active role in researching his life and bringing his work back to Liverpool for display in the newly refurbished Central Library and Records Office.

Course documents can be accessed from the main menu or links to the right.
Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4