George Orwell and the Battle for Animal Farm

A short film by Jean Seaton, published by The Orwell Foundation

“This is the story of how George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, the mountain he had to climb to get it published, and the enormous personal tragedy which ran beneath.” In this exclusive new short film, Orwell’s biographer DJ Taylor and George Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication by unpacking the extraordinary story behind the story, from the book’s initial rejection by several publishers (for reasons of political expediency) to the adoption of George and Eileen’s son, Richard, and Eileen’s unexpected death soon after.

“The two great crises of Orwell’s life, the professional and the personal,” Taylor explains, “are running together in the spring of 1945.” ‘Animal Farm: A Fairy Story’ was eventually published by Secker and Warburg on the 17th August 1945, and is widely regarded as one of the great political works of twentieth century literature.

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Jean Seaton

About Jean Seaton

Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History and the Official Historian of the BBC. She will publish in the Autumn of 2014 the next volume of the Corporations story, Holding the Line: the BBC and the Nation, taking Lord Asa Briggs work forward for Profile Books. This involves everything the BBC did in a tumultuous decade from the conflict in Northern Ireland, to the invasion of the Falklands, to Not the Nine O'Clock News, the Proms, the early music revolution, devolution, Dennis Potter's greatest plays, Attenborough's revolutionary series Life on Earth, and Radio 1s most influential moment, as well as the role of women in the Corporation, programmes for children and a tense and complicated relationship with the government. The history was given privileged access to BBC archives, but also gained privileged access to state papers. For the first time the Corporation's history is seen in the round. It has depended on several hundred interviews, and explores both the programme making decision that go into the making of an iconic Television series like John le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but also the high politics around the imposition of the broadcasting ban.


Jean Seaton
18 August 2020
Published By
The Orwell Foundation
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