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1001 Animal Farm
Added on 15th August 2020

Author George Orwell
First published 1945
Publisher Secker and Warburg (now part of Penguin Random House)

A cautionary tale about power and how it can corrupt even those with good intentions.

Story

When the animals overthrow their human masters and take over the farm, they believe that the days of hunger and hard work are over. But before long some new tyrants emerge.

Why we chose it

George Orwell’s famous fable was written as a warning that powerful leaders can exploit their followers just as humans exploit animals, and that power can corrupt even the noblest of causes. Many believe that its lessons are still uncannily relevant today.

Orwell is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and his influential story has been translated into over 70 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2016 it was voted Britain’s favourite book from school.

Where it came from

George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, a journalist, critic and novelist famous for his clear language and outspoken criticism of oppressive regimes. Born in India in 1903, Orwell grew up in Oxfordshire and won a scholarship to Eton. Too poor to go to university, he spent five years as a policeman in Burma and ten scratching a living as a teacher, bookseller and journalist in London and Paris. After a period fighting in the Spanish Civil War he returned home injured and wrote Homage to Catalonia which was a critical success but a commercial failure.

Inspired by Arthur Koestler’s best-selling Darkness at Noon Orwell decided that fiction was the best way to attack totalitarianism. Recalling seeing a small boy controlling a huge horse with a whip he began work on Animal Farm.

Many publishers rejected the story but in 1945 it was published by Secker and Warburg to critical acclaim and worldwide commercial success. Orwell died in 1950, aged 46, after a lifetime of ill health and is buried in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire.

Where it went next

Animal Farm has appeared on stage, radio and screen and is being adapted for Netflix by motion-capture specialist Andy Serkis.

Associated stories

Orwell’s last book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is enjoyed by older teenagers and often studied for A’ level. Set in a dystopian society whose citizens are under constant surveillance it has added many phrases to our language, such as thoughtcrime, Big Brother and Room 101.

Added on 15th August 2020

Author George Orwell
First published 1945
Publisher Secker and Warburg (now part of Penguin Random House)