“[E]ven though he was already sick with the illness that would eventually become the tuberculosis that killed him, Orwell left London to live on the Scottish island of Jura (off and on) for the next few years, where he could try to focus on writing fiction instead of journalism.” Nathan Gelgud creates a wonderful illustrated origin story of 1984 for Signature Reads. Pair with this piece on the fall (literally) of the ur-Orwellian home.
Our own Kevin Hartnett has an interesting theory as to how Charles Dickens came up with the idea for A Christmas Carol. At The Boston Globe, he looks at the evidence that Dickens got inspiration from the amateur writings of millworkers in Massachusetts.
Three cheers to the return of storied magazines! This month, The Baffler and Collier's made triumphant returns after lulls of 2 and 55 years, respectively. Meanwhile, over at Johns Hopkins Magazine, Paris Review editor Lorin Stein explains why "literary magazines still matter." And, if you know anyone with some extra cash, they could become the next owner of Variety.
Looking for someone to whip your writing into shape? Then tweet the new Gordon Lish bot, a Twitter account which offers unvarnished critiques of your tweets and fictional sentences. (Related: Frank Kovarik on the editor’s relationship with Raymond Carver.)
If you want to read a book with obscenity in it in Russia after July 1, you'll find it in a sealed package with a warning label. The law is the latest in Vladimir Putin's censorship crusade and also bans swearing in films and live performance. Interestingly, the banned words are still up for the debate by the Ministry of Culture. At The New Yorker, David Remnick discusses just how unique and diverse the Russian language's profanity is.