george_orwell

George Orwell Journalist and Satirist

Born Eric Arthur Blair, George Orwell colored the twentieth century with essays, articles, and novels that explore issues of social justice and political awareness. His work turned the thoughts of the public to the lower-class citizen, the plight of the poor and oppressed, and the dangers of a totalitarian system. For decades readers have read his most notable works, Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen-Eighty-Four (1949), and applied them as a warning to their own society.

Orwell was born in Motihari, India in 1903 to Richard and Ida Blair. His father worked for the Indian Civil Service and his mother cared for Orwell and his two sisters. The year after Orwell’s birth, the children moved with their mother to Oxfordshire, England where he had little contact with his father. Early on in his education, Orwell learned that he was a gifted writer but neglected his studies in his later academic years, prompting him to join the Imperial Police in 1922. After experiencing life in Burma with the Imperial Police and embracing many of the ways of the natives, he retired from the police force to become a writer in September of 1927.

Upon returning to Europe, he spent the next five years between London and Paris, secretly roaming the streets as a tramp under an alias to experience the life of the poor man. He sought to express the struggles of the lower-class citizen in his writing, later composing Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) about the odd jobs he took around the city and “Clink” after his failed attempt to spend Christmas in jail over a purposeful arrest for disorderly drunkenness.

In 1936, Orwell took a journey to research the social conditions in northern England and penned his non-fiction title The Road to Wigan Pier (1937). The book contains his observations of the workman’s life in the coal mines as well as details about his own life and his socialist convictions.

Upon returning to Europe, he spent the next five years between London and Paris, secretly roaming the streets as a tramp under an alias to experience the life of the poor man. He sought to express the struggles of the lower-class citizen in his writing, later composing Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) about the odd jobs he took around the city and “Clink” after his failed attempt to spend Christmas in jail over a purposeful arrest for disorderly drunkenness.

In 1936, Orwell took a journey to research the social conditions in northern England and penned his non-fiction title The Road to Wigan Pier (1937). The book contains his observations of the workman’s life in the coal mines as well as details about his own life and his socialist convictions.

Orwell’s time in the Spanish Civil War greatly influenced his acclaimed novel, Animal Farm: A Fairy Story and cultivated his negative opinion of Stalinism. Published in England on August 17, 1945 and again in America the following year, dropping the subtitle, Animal Farm grew to become a highly esteemed piece of allegorical work. The novella satirizes Stalin and critiques the control of the Soviet Union in the Stalinist era, which brought Orwell initial rejections for publication. Posthumously, the title won the Hugo Award in 1996.

Issue points for the first edition dust jacket include “An Early List for 1945” to the rear panel and the Search light motif to the reverse of the jacket. The jacket should also have a stated price of 6s.

animal-farm-first-edition-back-panel
animal-farm-orwell-first-edition-dust-jacket-inside
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Just four years later, in 1949, the renown dystopian novel, Nineteen-Eighty-Four was published. Influenced by his experiences during World War II, Orwell tells a cautionary tale of the dangers of a totalitarian government. Since its publication, the novel has often been banned in schools for its subversive ideas along with fellow science-fiction works such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Words such as “Big Brother”, “thoughtcrime”, and “Newspeak” featured in this novel are included in our vocabulary today.

The first edition of this book was issued in London by Secker & Warburg. There are two different versions of the dust jacket: one in green and one in red. There is no established priority to either of the jackets, but the price of 10s.net is always found on the bottom of the front flap.

Orwell’s legacy as political journalist and satirist lives on in these novels that have endured as classics in the dystopian genre despite their early rejection by publishers and the concern they evoked from the public. His works remain today to educate us on the plight of the lower class and remind us of the dangers of dictatorship.

We have in our collection the first editions of the books pictured above as well as works by and about other notable science-fiction writers of the nineteenth century such as Stephen Greenblatt’s first book below, Three Modern Satirists (2002) about authors Waugh, Orwell, and Huxley.