In 1944 T S Eliot, then director at Faber & Faber, wrote back to George Orwell rejecting his novella Animal Farm. While his letter praises Orwell’s skill as a satirist, comparing him to Jonathan Swift, Eliot expresses his doubts that Orwell’s allegory ‘is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the present time’.
Publishing Animal Farm was not a straightforward task. Before its eventual publication by Secker & Warburg in August 1945, the novella was rejected by at least four different publishers, and Orwell even considered printing it as a pamphlet. While it was written in the form of an animal fable, readers of Animal Farm immediately recognised it for what it was: a satire of Stalinism which condemned totalitarian practices and presented Stalin as a traitor of the Russian Revolution. Many publishers thought the work too controversial to be published at a time in which the Soviet Union was a powerful ally of Britain against Germany. Another publisher objected to the choice of pigs as the protagonists of the story, worried that such portrayal would offend Russian readers. Despite these initial difficulties, Animal Farm achieved considerable success in Britain and abroad, and within months of its publication the work was translated into several languages.
For more T S Eliot content explore works published by Faber & Faber.
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- Letter to George Orwell from Faber & Faber Limited (T.S. Eliot), 13 July 1944
- 13 July 1944, Faber & Faber, 24 Russell Square, London
- Manuscript / Typescript / Letter / Ephemera
- T S Eliot
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T S Eliot, on behalf of Faber & Faber: © Estate of T. S. Eliot and reprinted by permission of Faber & Faber Ltd. 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.
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- Article by:
- Dr Mercedes Aguirre
- Literature 1900–1950, Power and conflict
Mercedes Aguirre explores how George Orwell rewrote the beast fable for the 20th century in Animal Farm.
- Article by:
- John Sutherland
- Power and conflict, Literature 1900–1950
George Orwell’s Animal Farm combines animal fable with political satire targeting Stalinist Russia. John Sutherland describes the novel’s genesis, its struggle to find a publisher, and its eventual success.
- Article by:
- Matthew Taunton
- Power and conflict, Capturing and creating the modern, 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
Animal Farm (1945) is a novella by George Orwell. Originally sub-titled A Fairy Story, it is a commentary on the ...