"I cannot write anything. They won't let me work, & I doubt whether I could"—suffering from tuberculosis, George Orwell writes from "Room 65, Private Wing, University College Hospital"
Rare ALS signed “Geo. Orwell,” one page both sides, 5.5 x 7, October 2, 1949. Handwritten letter from his deathbed—"Room 65, Private Wing, University College Hospital"—to American editor intellectual William Phillips, co-founder of the Partisan Review. In full: "Thanks so much for your letter. I wrote recently to Philip Rahv, & sometime earlier to Alan Dowling thanking them for the cheque & saying how honoured I felt. I am sorry, but I cannot write anything. They won't let me work, & I doubt whether I could if they would let me. At present however I am somewhat better, thanks to aureomycin, & I hope that may continue. Do come & see me if you're ever here. I am likely to be above for at any rate a month or two. If you ring up the hospital they'll put you through to my room." In very good to fine condition, with light creasing, and an area of toning to the first page.
Suffering from tuberculosis since 1947, Orwell's health took a turn for the worse shortly before penning this letter from University College Hospital. His classic 1984 had been released only months earlier on June 8th, and it was generally well received by critics, earning praise from V. S. Pritchett, Bertrand Russell, E. M. Forster, and Harold Nicolson. Sadly, Orwell would not live long enough to observe its wild success and vast influence—he never left the hospital, passing away in Room 65 on January 21, 1950.