People Weekly, 9 Jan 1984
His pastimes are playing squash, tending roses and attending Scottish country dance classes. He earns his living writing sales manuals. Few know that the unassuming Richard Blair is George Orwell's adopted son and sole beneficiary. "It's not something I talk about much," says Blair. "If my name were Orwell, there would be a problem. I'm grateful it isn't."
At 39, Richard Blair is a reluctant and disassociated heir. His adoptive mother died when he was 10 months old, and Orwell passed on when he was just 6. The author, using a cigarette, had burned the names of Blair's real parents off the adoption papers. "He didn't want me to know and maybe didn't want to know himself," Blair says. "He wanted to consider me his very own." After the author's death from TB, Richard was sent to live with Orwell's childless sister and her husband on a remote farm in Scotland. Blair milked cows, watched over grazing sheep and, instead of attending Westminster School as his father had hoped, was educated in Scotland. He dropped out of agricultural college to work as a farm laborer. His stepmother, Sonia, remained in London's literary circle, but they never grew close and she excluded him from the activities of Orwell's holding company. "As far as she was concerned, I didn't have the intellectual background for it," Blair says. He seems to agree with her, putting himself in the category of "Intellectual philistines, I suppose," and adds, "I have no regrets."
Blair has only fragmentary memories of the father who washed and dressed him and made him crude wooden toys. When he talks about his father's work, he praises its simplicity: "When asked why he made pigs the villains in Animal Farm, he said it was because he didn't like pigs." Since his stepmother's death in 1980, Blair, who makes $15,000 a year writing for a farm-equipment company, stands to inherit the remainder of Orwell's estate. Depending on claims, it could be worth from "absolutely nothing" to "something in six figures." Whatever the amount, it's not likely to alter his quiet life-style, though he allows he might buy the farm he's always wanted. "George never minded what I'd do," he says, "so long as it was what I wanted."
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