George Orwell was briefly employed as an editor in the Eastern Service by the BBC during the Second World War. Funds for a statue of him were raised by the late human rights lawyer Ben Whitaker and the BBC agreed to site the work at its headquarters in Portland Place.
The sculpture went through various versions in maquette form and several locations outside Broadcasting House were considered for the finished work. The statue now stands to the right of the main entrance, raised on a plinth. Orwell leans forward, fist on hip and jabbing his roll-up towards passers-by, as if calling attention from his soap-box to his words carved in the stone wall alongside him:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.
The sculpture was commissioned by the George Orwell Memorial Trust chaired from 2014-2017 by Baroness Janet Whitaker with support from Orwell’s son Richard Blair and BBC assistance provided by Robert Seatter.
A bronze bust replicating the head and shoulders from the statue was commissioned by Eton College and installed at the entrance to the school library for the centenary of Orwell’s arrival at the college.