Brian Sewell’s death last year was mourned by his friends as well as his enemies for the man was a remarkable human being: idiosyncratic, waspish, indiscreet, comical and utterly outrageous. He hated mediocrity, shunned celebrity status and admired nascent talent. But for me in particular he was a loyal friend, an ideal author and a most generous individual when put to the test. I enjoyed his company, his acerbic style of writing when challenged and his vast knowledge of the arts. I truly miss him.
The Orwell Essays recently published by Quartet is a selection of prize-winning journalism. Written while columnist for the Evening Standard from 1996 to 2002, Brian Sewell’s Orwell Prize winning essays tackle issues as diverse as battery farming and pornography as well as subjects still at the fore of public discourse such as housing and immigration. He wages a veritable one man war against the political and social evils of the time and casts his discerning eye over the tenures of both John Major and Tony Blair, ever the sceptic as the latter was swept to power on a wave of optimism.
Controversial and idiosyncratic throughout, his opinions are backed up by a vast well of knowledge and his humanitarian instincts shine through in diatribes on attitudes towards homelessness and child labour, among other causes. Written with his trademark eloquence and humour, this collection celebrates an extraordinary career and marks a year on from his sad death at the age of 84.
Buy this book for Christmas and enjoy reading the essays by a man who broke all of the rules but always remained true to his convictions and excelled in everything he embarked upon. You will be entertained and outraged in equal measure.