Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s dystopian piece of science fiction, introduced terms such as “Big Brother” and “thoughtcrime” into our lexicon. Only one handwritten copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four survives, and we are honoured to partner with Brown University to reproduce it on this Embellished Manuscript cover.
George Orwell (1903–1950) is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, an English novelist, essayist, journalist and literary critic remembered for his passionate commitment to democratic socialism just as much as for his lucid prose. He called upon his experiences as a member of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma in much of his writing, with a lingering sense of adventure yet keen awareness of the injustices he witnessed informing his work.
His strong opposition of totalitarianism is perhaps most strongly felt in his in 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. This dystopian piece of social science fiction introduced terms such as “Big Brother” and “thoughtcrime” into our social lexicon and continues to be one of the mostly widely read English-language novels. In recent years the novel has seen a resurgence in public interest, climbing to the top of bestseller lists due to its unnerving relevance in today’s socio-political climate.
Orwell was no great keeper of manuscripts; in fact, he famously instructed his literary executor to burn any remaining drafts when he died. Of all his writings, only one handwritten portion of Nineteen Eighty-Four survives. It contains four distinct stages of composition, written between 1946 and 1948, and accounts for nearly half of the final published work.
The surviving manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four resides in the John Hay Library at Brown University. It was donated by the author’s widow, Sonia Orwell, to a charity auction in 1952 and purchased by Scribner’s of New York. The manuscript was eventually purchased by Daniel Siegel, who published a facsimile edition in 1984 with help from the noted Orwell scholar Peter Davidson, before presenting the manuscript to the Library in 1992. Remaining copies of Siegel’s 1984 limited edition Facsimile of the Manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four, published by M & S Press, are available for purchase through M & S Press or Amazon.