Volume 1 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Few authors can have striven so hard to make themselves professional writers as did George Orwell. As a child he talked of becoming a writer; he wrote for student publications at Eton; whilst serving in the Imperial Police in Burma he sketched out ideas for Burmese Days; on returning to Europe, he spent two years in Paris struggling to write.
Down and Out in Paris and London was the outcome of those years in Paris and of months tramping south-east England. Whilst not quite autobiography, it does give a vivid picture of the kind of life he led 'in the lower depths', and exemplifies his belief that 'The greatest of evils and the worst of crimes is poverty. ' Orwell thought of calling this first book 'Confessions of a Dishwasher', and he hesitated for some time over the pseudonym under which it was published, the name by which, in due time, he was to achieve worldwide fame: George Orwell.
This edition of Down and Out in Paris and London differs in many ways from all earlier editions and retores material censored by its original publisher in 1933.
Volume 2 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Burmese Days was first published in the United States, by Harper & Brothers, in October 1934. It was Orwell's second book to be published and his first novel. It draws on his experiences serving in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (some preliminary sketches survive on Government of Burma paper). he resigned from the Burma Police in autumn 1927 'because he disliked putting people into prison for doing the same things which he should have done in their circumstances'.
Orwell was convinced that publication of his novel in England would be impeded by the India Office because of his exposure of the evils of colonialism - his title, so appropriate to a volume of conventional memoirs, is subtly ironic - but his difficulties proved quite different. Victor Gollancz, though keen to publish Burmese Days, feared action for defamation and libel.
After modification, an English version was brought out in June 1935. Although at the time Orwell considered the changes required to be 'trifling', he later rejected the English edition as 'garbled'. However, as well as forced changes, it does include genuine authorial revisions, something which Orwell had forgotten.
Volume 4 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Originally published in 1936, before Orwell achieved fame, Keep the Aspidistra Flying takes Money as its theme. Gordon Comstock gives up a good job in an advertising agency to become a part-time bookshop assistant at a meagre wage, thereby gaining leisure for writing. However, after some modest success in the world of letters he eventually slides into the abyss, to be rescued by the faithful Rosemary.
Ironically, Gordon’s voyage of discovery leads him back to commercial security, marriage, and the unexpected pleasures of domesticity. But above all he learns of the courage of keeping up appearances despite hardships. The symbol of this is the potted aspidistra: the ugly, stubborn, organic emblem of social and biological survival.
This new edition restores most of the material censored on first publication due to fears of action for libel, defamation and obscenity. Of particular interest are the previously suppressed advertising slogans of the 1930s and, in light of the censorship he experienced, Orwell's ironic choice of surname for Gordon: Comstock.
Volume 5 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Victor Gollancz personally commissioned Orwell to write about the distressed north of England in January 1936. After Orwell handed in his typescript a little before Christmas Day 1936, he immediately left to fight in Spain. Shortly afterwards the book was selected for publication by the Left Book Club. This meant a print run of 47,340 copies instead of 2,150, so bringing Orwell to a much wider audience. The first part of Orwell's account, Gollancz wrote in Left News in April 1937, ‘has done, perhaps in a greater degree than any previous book, what the [Left Book] Club is meant to do – it has provoked thought and discussion of the keenest kind’. All copies of the original Left Book Club and first public editions of The Road to Wigan Pier were sold. This edition reproduces the illustrations selected for that first edition, corrects the text and prints Victor Gollancz’s Foreword as an Appendix. (See Volume Ten for Orwell’s Wigan Pier Diary and the research materials he wrote and collected in order to write The Road to Wigan Pier.)
Volume 6 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
‘This is the story of one man who went to Spain with an intellectual sympathy for socialist doctrine and came back. . . with a fervent, almost religious belief in its necessity’ – so reads the dust-jacket to the first edition of Homage to Catalonia in 1938. Despite a mixture of laudatory and politically biased reviews, that first edition of 1, 500 copies had still not sold out by the time Orwell died, twelve years later. From then on, however, the literary, autobiographical and political importance of Homage to Catalonia became widely recognised. It was published in an Italian edition of 2,060 copies in December 1948 and the first American edition of 4,000 copies, published by Harcourt, Brace in 1952, had to be reprinted almost immediately. The book has since been printed and reprinted in many countries and languages.
Homage to Catalonia is a vivid record of Orwell's experiences fighting for the Republican cause in Spain and his growth in political maturity. Despite physical privation, being wounded in the throat, and disenchantment arising from the bitter in-fighting within the Left, Orwell concluded: ‘Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings’.
Volume 7 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Coming Up for Air looks back from the sprawl of thirties housing estates, new arterial roads and the domination of the motor car, to an idealised golden England, largely rural and unmechanised when, in the nostalgia of childhood, it was ‘summer. . . always summer’. It looks forward to the destruction wrought by air-raids (though written in 1938–1939, war is expected in 1941) leading to ‘The world we’re going down into, the kind of hate-world, slogan-world. . the rubber truncheons. . the posters with enormous faces’ that will be Nineteen Eighty-Four. Yet, despite its sense of loss and its grim foreboding, Coming Up for Air is a very funny book, with a rich sense of the incongruity of life and people, and it is illuminated by Orwell's wry, sardonic wit in which there is not a little self-parody.
Volume 8 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Rejected by such eminent figures as Victor Gollancz and T.S. Eliot (for Faber & Faber), and by Jonathan Cape (influenced by ‘an important official at the Ministry of Information’), Animal Farm was published to great acclaim by Martin Secker & Warburg on 17 August 1945 in an edition of 4,500 copies. Orwell’s immortal satire – ‘contre Stalin’ as himself wrote to his French translator – is as vivid and pungent today as it was on its first publication, and can be read on many levels. Orwell subtitled the book ‘A Fairy Story’, a genre in which he was keenly interested. It combines the poster-paint clarity of fable with the dark and mordant tones of a bitter political allegory.
Animal Farm is indisputably a masterpiece, and places Orwell firmly in the great satirical tradition of Swift and Defoe. This edition incorporates all Orwell’s changes and reproduces his introduction, ‘The Freedom of the press’, which in the event he withdrew, and the preface to the Ukrainian edition, in its complete form, written at the request of the Ukrainian Displaced Persons Organisation in Munich. Also published here for the first time is Orwell’s dramatisation of Animal Farm for BBC Radio (1947).
Volume 9 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ This is the opening sentence of the most influential novel of the century, in English or in any of the sixty or more languages which boast a translation. Nineteen Eighty-Four has been described as chilling, absorbing, satirical, momentous, prophetic and terrifying. It is all these things, and more.
Not only does the novel have a ferocious impact, it has also made an irreplaceable contribution to the language – Big Brother, Newspeak, Thought Police, Unperson and Doublethink are just a few words it introduced.
Originally entitled ‘The Last Man in Europe’, Nineteen Eighty-Four also proved to be Orwell’s last book, the physical effort of typing up the final draft leading to his eventual collapse from TB that had dogged him since before the outbreak of the Second World War. He lived long enough to see it become an immediate bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic on publication in June 1949.
For this edition the text had been meticulously edited according to Orwell’s wishes, including the re-instatement of Winston Smith’s controversial acceptance of the equation ‘2+2=5’.
'The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs'
Biting and timeless reflections on patriotism, prejudice and power, from the man who wrote about his nation better than anyone.
Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
George Orwell's moving reflections on the English character and his passionate belief in the need for political change.
The Lion and the Unicorn was written in London during the worst period of the blitz. It is vintage Orwell, a dynamic outline of his belief in socialism, patriotism and an English revolution. His fullest political statement, it has been described as 'one of the most moving and incisive portraits of the English character' and is as relevant now as it ever has been.
The year is 1984, and life in Oceania is ruled by the Party. Under the gaze of Big Brother, Winston Smith yearns for intimacy and love – “thought crimes” that, if uncovered, would mean imprisonment, or death. But Winston is not alone in his defiance, and an illicit affair will draw him into the mysterious Brotherhood and the realities of resistance.
Nineteen Eighty-Four has been described as chilling, absorbing, satirical, momentous, prophetic and terrifying. It is all these things, and more.
A selection of George Orwell's prescient, clear-eyed and stimulating writing on the subjects of truth and lies. With an introduction by Alan Johnson.
'Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.'
This selection of George Orwell’s writing, from both his novels and non-fiction, gathers together his thoughts on the subject of truth. It ranges from discussion of personal honesty and morality, to freedom of speech and political propaganda. Orwell’s unique clarity of thought and illuminating scepticism provide the perfect defence against our post-truth world of fake news and confusion.
'The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.'
Includes an introduction by Alan Johnson and passages from Burmese Days, The Road to Wigan Pier, Coming Up for Air, The Lion and the Unicorn, Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell’s letters, war-time diary, criticism and essays including ‘Fascism and Democracy’, ‘Culture and Democracy’, ‘Looking Back on the Spanish War’, ‘As I Please’, ‘Notes on Nationalism’, ‘The Prevention of Literature’, ‘Politics and the English Language’ and ‘Why I Write’.
'England is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family.'
'England Your England' is one of the most compelling and insightful portraits of the nation ever written. Shot through with Orwell's deeply felt sense of patriotism and love for his homeland, the essay is at the same time unfailingly clear-eyed about the nation's failings: entrenched social inequality, a dishonest press and a class system that only works for those at the top. Written during the Second World War, as the bombs were falling on England, the essay today speaks to the nation's current moment of crisis just as urgently as it did in Orwell's own time. It is a crucial read for anyone who wants to understand who we are, and where we've come from.
The twelve edited volumes of Orwell's non-fiction, collected for the first time in one invaluable ebook.
A rich treasure trove of material, this unique collection includes Orwell's reviews, broadcasts, notebooks, wartime diaries, articles on socialism and censorship, correspondence with luminaries such as Arthur Koestler, Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh, and famous essays such as 'Politics and the English Language', 'Why I Write' and 'Some Thoughts on the Common Toad'.
Edited by Professor Peter Davison, the collection encompasses twelve annotated volumes and ranges across the whole of Orwell's writing life, from 1903 to 1950. As well as providing an unparalleled insight into Orwell's life and works, the volume offers a wonderful overview of the social, literary and political events of the thirties and forties. It will be an invaluable resource for fans, students and scholars alike.
A Kind of Compulsion (1903-36)
Facing Unpleasant Facts (1937-39)
A Patriot After All (1940-41)
All Propaganda is Lies (1941-42)
Keeping Our Little Corner Clean (1942-43)
Two Wasted Years (1943)
I Have Tried to Tell the Truth (1943-44)
I Belong to the Left (1945)
Smothered Under Journalism (1946)
It is What I Think (1947-48)
Our Job is to Make Life Worth Living (1949-50)
The Lost Orwell
'This selection is a ceaseless delight ... there is a treat on almost every page' Daily Telegraph
George Orwell wrote, in his words, from 'a desire to see things as they are'. This new collection of his journalism and other writings, including articles, essays, broadcasts, poems, book and film reviews from across his career, shows his unmatched genius for observing the world. Whether discussing Polish immigration or Scottish independence, railing against racism, defending the English language or holding an imaginary conversation with Jonathan Swift, these pieces reveal a clear-eyed, entertaining and eternally relevant chronicler of his age.
Edited with an introduction by Peter Davison
'Orwell's luminous gift was for seeing things, for noticing what others missed, took for granted or simply found uninteresting, for discovering meaning and wonder in the familiarity of the everyday... Nothing escaped or seemed beneath his notice, which was what made him such a good reporter... Seeing Things As They Are is intended to be a collection first and foremost of his journalism, with preference given to lesser-known pieces and reviews as well as some of the poems he wrote. It is full of interest and curiosities' Jason Cowley, Financial Times
'Peter Davison gives us a feast of [Orwell's] shorter writings, showing how from such hesitant beginnings he evolved into the writer of enduring importance we know, committed to decency, equality and political honesty, who could nevertheless wax lyrical over the first signs of spring or an imaginary English pub' Gordon Bowker, Independent
'The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which...'
Halas & Bachelor studio's classic and controversial 1954 animation of Animal Farm, George Orwell's chilling fable of idealism betrayed, was the first ever British animated feature film. This landmark illustrated edition of Orwell's novel was first published alongside it, and features the original line drawings by the film's animators, Joy Batchelor and John Halas.
Volume 17 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
On 29 March 1945, Orwell's wife Eileen died, aged 39. Her last, long, very moving letters to her husband are printed here. Less than six months later the novel that she might be said to have nurtured and which gave Orwell world-wide fame, Animal Farm, was published. For a little over three months Orwell worked as a War Correspondent for the Observer and the Manchester Evening News. As well as 74 books specifically reviewed, many others were discussed briefly in essays and in his column 'As I Please'. 'Politics and the English Language', one of Orwell's most important essays, was immediately reprinted for journalists of the Observer and News of the World as a guide to good writing. His defence of P.G. Wodehouse, printed here, was written at a time when Wodehouse was still under a cloud. Essays and articles he wrote for the Observer, Manchester Evening News and Evening Standard are reprinted; correspondence shows he had written the first twelve pages of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eileen's will and Orwell's first notes for his literary executor are also reproduced. Orwell kept a careful account of what he earned to assist in making his income tax return. Only one such record has survived (for 12 July 1943 to 31 December 1945) and it is reproduced here, fully annotated.
Volume 16 of The Complete Works of George Orwell
Orwell served as Literary Editor of Tribune from 29 November 1943 until he went to Continental Europe as War Correspondent for the Observer and the Manchester Evening News in mid February 1945. He continued to write for Tribune until 4 April 1947, when his eightieth 'As I Please' appeared. This column is now, in this edition, printed without cuts. In these thirteen months Orwell reviewed 86 books and he wrote essays on Twain, Smollett, Thackeray, and The Vicar of Wakefield. It was a period in which several important essays appeared, but perhaps the most intriguing is one that has previously neither been accredited to him nor reprinted: 'Can Socialists Be Happy?', written under the pseudonym, John Freeman. Four 'London Letters' were contributed to Partisan Review. The English People, though not publlished until 1947, is included in this volume. Although this was one of his books that Orwell did not want reprinted, it still reads well.
An enlightening anthology of George Orwell's journalism and non-fiction writing, showing his genius across a wide variety of genres. Selected by leading expert Peter Davison.
Famous for his novels and essays, Orwell remains one of our very best journalists and commentators. Confronting social, political and moral dilemmas head-on, he was fearless in his writing: a champion of free speech, a defender against social injustice and a sharp-eyed chronicler of the age. But his work is also timeless, as pieces on immigration, Scottish independence and a Royal Commission on the Press attest.
Seeing Things As They Are, compiled by renowned Orwell scholar Peter Davison, brings together in one volume many of Orwell’s articles and essays for journals and newspapers, his broadcasts for the BBC, and his book, theatre and film reviews. Little escaped Orwell’s attention: he writes about the Spanish Civil War, public schools and poltergeists, and reviews books from Brave New World to Mein Kampf. Almost half of his popular ‘As I Please’ weekly columns, written while literary editor of the Tribune during the 1940s, are collected here, ranging over topics as diverse as the purchase of rose bushes from Woolworth’s to the Warsaw Uprising.
Whether political, poetic, polemic or personal, this is surprising, witty and intelligent writing to delight in. A mix of well-known and intriguing, less familiar pieces, this engaging collection illuminates our understanding of Orwell’s work as a whole.
A searing account of George Orwell's observations of working-class life in the bleak industrial heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the 1930s, The Road to Wigan Pier is a brilliant and bitter polemic that has lost none of its political impact over time. His graphically unforgettable descriptions of social injustice, cramped slum housing, dangerous mining conditions, squalor, hunger and growing unemployment are written with unblinking honesty, fury and great humanity. It crystallized the ideas that would be found in Orwell's later works and novels, and remains a powerful portrait of poverty, injustice and class divisions in Britain.
Published with an introduction by Richard Hoggart in Penguin Modern Classics.
'It is easy to see why the book created and still creates so sharp an impact ... exceptional immediacy, freshness and vigour, opinionated and bold ... Above all, it is a study of poverty and, behind that, of the strength of class-divisions'
'Anyone who wants to understand the twentieth century will have to read Orwell’ - New York Review of Books
George Orwell (1903-1950) served with the Imperial Police in Burma, fought with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, and was a member of the Home Guard and a writer for the BBC during World War II. He is the author of many works of non-fiction and fiction.
Author images © Bridgeman Art Library