Book of the Year Lists 2023

New York Times – 100 Notable Books of 2023
Wifedom by Anna Funder
‘Even George Orwell, whose dealings with women were often problematic, admitted that he behaved badly toward his first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy. This book focuses on O’Shaughnessy, and combines her story with a bravura analysis of female invisibility.’

The Telegraph The 50 best books of 2023
‘This study of George Orwell’s first wife, Eileen – whom his books never names – is fresh, original and immersive, thanks to the award-winning author of Stasiland.’

The Daily Telegraph – 50 best books of 2023

The TelegraphThe best biographies of 2023
Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible​ Life (Viking, £20) is about doublethink rather than double lives. Applying Orwell’s own theory to his treatment of women, Anna Funder reveals his contradictory beliefs about power and equality. . .
Eileen, never mentioned by name in Orwell’s books, typed and edited his manuscripts – often working in near darkness so that he could use their only lamp – humanised his writing, influenced his style, sorted out the septic tank, financially supported him when he was out of work, and put up with his infidelities. He described her when she died, aged 39, as ‘not a bad old stick’. How, asks Funder, could the spokesman for the underdog, a man famous for his kindness, treat Eileen so indifferently? And why are his contradictions never discussed by Orwell’s male biographers, who – according to Funder – similarly erase Eileen’s existence while excusing her husband’s serial sexual harassments?
. . . Funder. . .  fills the barrel of her rifle, takes aim, and shoots the elephant in the room.’

The Economist – The Best Books of 2023
‘In this thought-provoking inquiry into the life of Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s long-suffering wife, the author’s aim is not to “cancel” Orwell, a thinker she deeply admires. Instead, by imaginatively resurrecting Eileen, she explores patriarchy and asks why women still vanish into subordinate roles.’

Financial Times – Best Books of 2023 – Literary non-fiction
‘Funder . . . takes six letters written by Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, as the imaginative springboard for a deep dive into their relationship and her impact on his writing and legacy. A haunting, tragic and revealing book.’

The Times – 16 Best Literary and poetry books of 2023
‘Funder blends biography with imagination and elements of her own life. While Orwell was doing very little in the Spanish Civil War, Eileen, a remarkably resilient woman, was in Barcelona running an English-language newspaper. She turned a blind eye to his adultery, gave him her food rations and even cleaned the outdoor latrine. Funder also credits her with the idea for Animal Farm, all before her untimely death during a botched hysterectomy. A moving biography with the pacing of a novel.’ 2023



New York Times Book Review
‘One Biography Questions Orwell’s Image, and Another Brings His First Wife Into Focus’

New York Times Editor’s Choice
Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life Anna Funder
‘A bravura analysis of female invisibility . . .’
‘Attrition is the central thread . . . Funder does a virtuoso performance on the theme, adding personal memoir, some fictional reconstructions and a glittering sense of purpose’ – Sarah Bakewell

Wall Street Journal
Wifedom Review: A Portrait of Her Marriage

The Boston Globe
Did Orwell’s Wife write herself out of history?

Los Angeles Times
Was George Orwell’s monstrous behaviour responsible for his wife’s death?

The Independent
Genius Writer, cruel husband: why we can never look at George Orwell the same way again

The Spectator
George Orwell’s unacknowledged debt to his wife Eileen

The Guardian/The Observer
Wifedom by Anna Funder review – Mrs Orwell Comes up for air

The Guardian Editorial
The Guardian View on invisible women: cancelled by history, restored with care

Financial Times
Two sides of George Orwell

The Times (UK)
Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life by Anna Funder review — the woman behind 1984

The Times
Wifedom by Anna Funder review — was Mrs Orwell the real genius behind Animal Farm?

The Economist
Interest in George Orwell and his dystopian fiction is high. But while warning of one kind of ‘doublethink’, was he blind to another?

The Herald (Scotland)
Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life Anna Funder

Wifedom by Anna Funder: Eye-Opening Portrait of George Orwell’s Wife

The Skinny
Anna Funder’s Wifedom explores the woman behind George Orwell’s life and works, his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy, offering a lucid interrogation of misogyny and what it means to write ‘truth’

Behind the Aspidistra: How Eileen O’Shaughnessy sacrificed herself to George Orwell’s career

Ah, that’s better

L’Obs (Le Nouvel Observateur)
Comment rendre les femmes invisible dans l’art: le cas de Mme Orwell

Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald
A woman’s work: why the story of George Orwell’s forgotten first wife still matters

Australian Book Review
A black hole — The airbrushing of George Orwell’s reputation

The Guardian
Wifedom by Anna Funder review — a brilliant reckoning with George Orwell to change the way you read

RUSSH Magazine
History books buried George Orwell’s first wife, in ‘Wifedom’ Anna Funder gives credit where it’s due

Dymocks — Bookmarked
Anna Funder Q&A — Wifedom

The Guardian — Editorial
The Guardian view on invisible women: cancelled by history, restored with care


Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald

A woman’s work: why the story of George Orwell’s forgotten first wife still matters

Big Issue (UK)

Anna Funder on George Orwell’s sexuality and society’s serious problem with successful women

Financial Review

Author Anna Funder takes on Her Critics