This week, we were surprised by the news that George Orwell’s Indian birthplace will be developed into a memorial. Why should that be so surprising, you ask? Well, because it’s not being turned into a memorial for George Orwell, but for the entirely deserving but somewhat more random Mahatma Gandhi. Though many authors’ birthplaces have been turned into museums or monuments to their lives, several have met with rather more questionable (and sometimes downright upsetting) fates. We investigate after the jump.
As indicated above, Orwell, née Eric Blair, was born in Motihari in Bihar, India, where he lived for a year before moving with his mother to England. The family’s bungalow has languished in the intervening years, marked by a sign and a statue, but was left damaged after a 1934 earthquake and since then has been largely a ruin overrun by strays. Now, the local municipal council has announced that the house will be turned into a memorial for Gandhi. We have to ask: of all the places in India where one could build such a monument, why here?