Communists and suspected

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Communists and suspected Communists

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George Orwell (KV 2/2699)

This slim Security Service file on journalist and author Eric Blair, alias George Orwell, shows that while his left-wing views attracted the Service's attention, no action was taken against him. It is clear, however, that he continued to arouse suspicions, particularly with the police, that he might be a Communist. The file reveals that the Service took action to counter these views.

 

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The file essentially consists of reports of Orwell´s activities between 1929 and his death in 1950. It gives some insight into Orwell's financial position while in Paris and includes a 1929 MI6 report to the Special Branch on his activities there, and various subsequent Special Branch reports. One of these by police Sergeant Ewing, from January 1942 (serial 7a), asserts that: "This man has advanced Communist views, and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings. He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours." A Service officer rang Ewing´s Inspector to challenge this view (minute 9). Wartime enquiries as to Orwell and his wife´s suitability for employment as a journalist and with the Ministry of Food were all approved. It is of some interest to note the part Orwell´s answers to a published Left magazine survey had in convincing the Service that Orwell should not be considered a Communist. The file includes a copy of Orwell´s passport papers and original passport photographs.

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Alan Lomax (KV 2/2701)

Noted American folk music archivist and collector Alan Lomax first attracted the attention of the Security Service when it was noted that he had made contact with the Romanian press attaché in London while he was working on a series of folk music broadcasts for the BBC in 1952. Correspondence ensued with the American authorities as to Lomax' suspected membership of the Communist Party, though no positive proof is found on this file. The Service took the view that Lomax' work compiling his collections of world folk music gave him a legitimate reason to contact the attaché, and that while his views (as demonstrated by his choice of songs and singers) were undoubtedly left wing, there was no need for any specific action against him.

The file contains a partial record of Lomax' movements, contacts and activities while in Britain, and includes, for example, a police report on the 'Songs of the Iron Road' concert at St Pancras in December 1953. His association with film director Joseph Losey is also mentioned (serial 30a).

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