This is the fair copy of ‘The Freedom of the Press’, which George Orwell wrote as a preface for his novella Animal Farm. The piece was eventually not included in the first edition of the work, and it remained undiscovered until 1971. Orwell’s essay discusses his difficulties in trying to publish Animal Farm, and accuses liberal publishers and journalists of censoring dissenting political positions.
‘Is every opinion, however unpopular…entitled to a hearing?’
In his introduction Orwell makes the anti-Stalinist meaning of his fable explicit, claiming that the popularity of the Soviet Union with British intellectuals was to blame for publishers’ refusal to print his work. He argues that during the years of the war the most radical sort of censorship has not been enforced by government bodies but by publishers and editors. According to Orwell’s indignant essay, the liberal press only defends freedom of expression when it doesn’t contradict their views:
The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular - however foolish, even – entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say “Yes”. But give it a concrete shape, and ask, “How about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?", and the answer more often than not will be “No”. In that case the current orthodoxy happens to be challenged, and so the principle of free speech lapses.
- Full title:
- 'The Freedom of the Press'
- estimated 1945
- Manuscript / Typescript / Draft
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Related collection items
Animal Farm (1945) is a novella by George Orwell. Originally sub-titled A Fairy Story, it is a commentary on the ...