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'Wifedom' brings focus to George Orwell’s first wife

Anna Funder is the author of "Wifedom"
Courtesy of the author
Anna Funder is the author of "Wifedom"

George Orwell’s writing has always resonated with Anna Funder. During a particularly overwhelming period in her life she returned to it for comfort, and stumbled upon a key part of his history that was neglected by Orwell and his numerous biographers - the role his wife played in both his life and his writing.

Anna Funder’s resulting book, Wifedom, is a genre-blending re-imagining of the life of Orwell’s first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy. Funder muses on the double burden of women’s labor, even in today’s society, and the magic trick of “wifedom.”

I recently spoke with her about Eileen’s influence on Orwell, how women have been written out of history, and more.


Wifedom was published by Knopf.

Marginalia was produced at KMUW Wichita and is part of the NPR Podcast Network.

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Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.