George Orwell's notes for Nineteen Eighty-Four


This is an extract from one of George Orwell’s literary notebooks, which he probably used in different periods of his life, and in which he wrote down ideas and outlines for his works. These pages contain manuscript notes for the novel that would eventually become Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell had been working on the idea of a dystopian novel for several years before the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949. The pages shown here are part of the draft for ‘The Last Man in Europe’, one of the titles he considered for his novel. They contain a list of words and themes ‘to be brought in’, among which are some of the most recognisable concepts of Nineteen Eighty-Four, including the idea of ‘Newspeak’ and the series of slogans ‘War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength. Freedom is Slavery’. In the second page, an early outline of the novel allows us to see the themes that Orwell intended to develop, including the pervasiveness of state propaganda and its terrifying consequences, or as Orwell puts it, ‘the nightmare feeling caused by the disappearance of objective truth’.

Full title:
Literary notebook 1939/40-1946/47
Manuscript / Notebook
George Orwell
Usage terms

George Orwell: © With kind permission of the estate of the late Sonia Brownell Orwell. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

UCL: © Orwell Archive, UCL Library Special Collections.

Held by
UCL Library Special Collections

Related articles

Freedom or oppression? The fear of dystopia

Article by:
Mike Ashley
Power and conflict, Visions of the future

Mike Ashley considers how British, Russian and American writers created repressive imaginary worlds and totalitarian regimes in order to explore 20th-century political concerns.

An introduction to Down and Out in Paris and London

Article by:
John Sutherland
Literature 1900–1950, Power and conflict

John Sutherland describes the biographical and historical events that produced George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which combines memoir with a study of poverty in two European cities in the late 1920s.

British modernism and the idea of Russia

Article by:
Matthew Taunton
Capturing and creating the modern, Power and conflict, European influence

Russian art, dance and music influenced many modernist writers in the first half of the 20th century, while the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 heightened both communist and anti-communist feeling in Britain. Matthew Taunton explores the influence of Russia on British modernism.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Created by: George Orwell

Nineteen-Eighty-Four is a novel published by George Orwell in 1949. It was his last work, written shortly before his ...