On this day in history : 17th August 1945 – George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ – the book which tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer – is first published….

First edition cover – Public domain

Orwell was a democratic socialist and a critic of Stalin…. He claimed the story reflected the events which had led up to the Russian Revolution of 1917…. In his essay ‘Why I Write’ in 1946, he stated that Animal Farm was the first book in which he had attempted to ‘fuse political purposes and artistic purpose into one whole’….

Following his experiences during the Spanish Civil War Orwell had written ‘Homage to Catalonia’ in 1938 – but it did not sell well and he decided fiction was the best way to get his message across…. He saw Stalinism as ‘corruption of original socialist ideals’ – he wanted to expose and condemn Stalin’s methods….

George Orwell – Public domain

Animal Farm was written between November 1943 and February 1944 – at the time when the UK was in a wartime alliance with Russia against Nazi Germany…. The British held Stalin in high esteem and Orwell hated this…. His book was initially rejected by UK and US publishers – but became a success as the relationship with Russia moved towards the Cold War….

The original title had been ‘Animal Farm : A Fairy Story’ but US publishers dropped the second part of the title when they published it in 1946….

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