This photograph of two boys was taken in Walberswick, Suffolk in about 1919. The boy on the left is my father, Humphrey Jennings, the future documentary film director. But who is the boy on the right? Could it be George Orwell, then Eric Blair. There is reason to think that it might be.
My father was born in Walberswick in 1907. His mother, Mildred, ran a shop there called the Walberswick Peasant Pottery Co. This sold pottery imported from France and eastern Europe and furniture painted by herself and others. One of her assistants was Ruth Pitter, the poet. Ruth Pitter had met the Blair family when they moved to Mall Chambers, Notting Hill early in 1918, when Orwell was 15. My grandparents moved to London in the late '20s and she continued working for the company, by then based in Portobello Road, Notting Hill and where she had a flat. Later she found Orwell a room there when he returned from Burma.
This photograph is part of a group of photographs of Ruth Pitter and my father. When the Blair family moved to Southwold in 1921, my father was 14 and Orwell was 20, perhaps a bit older than in the photograph. But did Ruth Pitter invite Orwell to stay in Walberswick when the Blair family were living in Mall Chambers, say in 1919 when Orwell was 16 and my father 12? It's entirely possible. Does the boy on the right look like Orwell? In a picture taken at Eton when he was 19 (in Crick's book), Orwell's face had begun to lengthen from the chubby child. …