A. R. Orage


Orage held a central position in early twentieth-century cultural circles in Britain, particularly as editor of the influential New Age weekly journal. Initially trained as a teacher and working for the Leeds School Board, Orage became increasingly interested in socialist politics; a particularly lively sphere of activity in the industrial town of Leeds. In 1900, he met Holbrook Jackson and they founded the Leeds Art Club together. Its programme of talks, debates and events, encompassing a broad range of topics including Plato, Nietzsche, Theosophy and Fabian Socialism, reflects Orage’s and Jackson’s personal interests at this time. In 1906, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism.

Supported by George Bernard Shaw, Orage and Holbrook Jackson bought and edited the New Age with Orage becoming the sole editor in 1909. India and the ‘East’ more generally loomed large in Orage’s imagination, although he never actually visited there. Under his editorship, the New Age also published articles and letters about South Asian culture and politics. Ananda Coomaraswamy contributed four articles to the journal and a number of letters to the editor. Orage responded to Coomaraswamy’s 1915 piece ‘The Hindu View of Art’ by saying: ‘In such treatises it is usual to find more sound than sense, more learning than wisdom, more chaff, than wheat; but in Dr. Coomaraswamy’s hands the subject becomes substantial and intelligible.’ Orage visited Coomaraswamy in Boston where the later was a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The New Age also contained contributions on Indian art by E. B. Havell and carried notices of the India Society. Its art critic, Huntly Carter, referred to Indian art and the India Society in his articles before the First World War.

After the war, Orage became increasingly interested in the economic theory of social credit. His interest in mysticism and the occult also deepened through his associations with the Serbian mystic Dimiti Mitrinovi and the occultist P. D. Ouspensky. He became a disciple of the Russian mystic George Gurdjieff. In October 1922 Orage left his editorial position at the New Age, and spent a year at Gurdjieff's institute, Le Prieuré, at Fontainebleau. He then spent a considerable amount of time in America lecturing and writing about philosophy and religion where he married Jessie Dwight (after a divorce from his first wife, Jean) who was co-owner of the Sunwise Turn Bookshop in New York which published Ananda Coomaraswamy’s work. Orage returned to England in 1930, setting up the New English Weekly in 1932, and again becoming the editor of a journal championing avant-garde writing, thought, art and political theory. He died suddenly in 1934 and was buried in Hampstead under a gravestone carved by Eric Gill, a sculptor with whom he had had a long association.

Published works: 

Frederick Nietzsche and the Dionysian Spirit of the Age (1906)

Consciousness, Animal, Human and Superhuman (1907)

Nietzsche in Outline and Aphorism (1907)

National Guilds (1914)

An Alphabet of Economics (1917)

Readers and Writers (1922)

Selected Essays and Critical Writings (1934)


Editorial, New Age, 30 November 1907.

Date of birth: 
22 Jan 1873
Contributions to periodicals: 

New Age

New English Weekly


Anything that can bring home to Englishmen the meaning of India and Indian Government is welcome…It is strange that no country has more love for nationalism at home and more hatred for it elsewhere than England.

Secondary works: 

Gibbons, Tom H., Rooms in the Darwin Hotel: Studies in English Literary Criticism and Ideas, 1880–1920 (Nedlands: University of Western Australia Press, 1973)

Hastings, Beatrice, The Old ‘New Age’: Orage, and Others (London: Blue Moon Press, 1936)

Mairet, Philip, A. R. Orage: A Memoir (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1936)

Martin, Wallace, The ‘New Age’ Under Orage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1967)

Milburn, Diane, The Deutschlandbild of A. R. Orage and the New Age Circle (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1996)

Selver, Paul, Orage and the ‘New Age’ Circle: Reminiscences and Reflections (London: Allen & Unwin, 1959)

Steele, T., Alfred Orage and the Leeds Arts Club, 1893–1923 (Aldershot: Scolars Press, 1990)

Welch, L., Orage with Gurdjieff in America (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982)


There was a strong anti-imperialist vein running through New Age editorials as this snippet makes clear.

Archive source: 

Letters and correspondence, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Patrick Geddes, National Library of Scotland

Letters to Holbrook Jackson, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin

City of birth: 
Dacre, North Yorkshire
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Alfred Richard Orage

Date of death: 
06 Nov 1934
Location of death: 
Tags for Making Britain: 
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