Recent Publications | November 17, 2022

George Orwell’s 1984 Manuscript Available in New Edition

SP Books

The extraordinary manuscript of George Orwell’s 1984 has been published by SP Books in a beautifully bound limited edition.

Held at the John Hay Library since 1992, the 197 remaining pages of 1984 (183 handwritten and 14 typewritten) give a unique insight into Orwell’s final secluded years in Scotland and the troubled writing of his dystopian masterpiece.

The text is the only substantial Orwell manuscript that survives and it includes several pages that were cast aside by Orwell, such as a scene in which Winston and Julia come across each other after leaving the flat; or the lynching of a black woman in the propaganda movie watched by Winston. Other passages reveal Orwell’s self-censorship ‘on grounds of possible racial prejudice or taste’.

Due to many crises in his personal life, including the sudden and devastating loss of his first wife, Eileen, and his increasingly fragile health, it took Orwell more than five years to create his final work. As such, the nature of the manuscript reflects the highly unusual conditions in which it was written, taking the form of a very curious piece of work: incomplete, chaotic and oddly provisional.

The manuscript published by SP Books features a foreword written by Orwell biographer DJ Taylor who is set to publish a new biography in 2023. “The manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four is a very curious piece of work: incomplete, chaotic and oddly provisional. As such, it reflects the highly unusual conditions in which it was written’ says Taylor.

After Orwell’s death, his widow Sonia visited his last home on the Hebridean island of Jura where she found a stack of documents which she identified as the 1984 manuscript. She donated it to a charity auction in London on June 11, 1952. The manuscript was purchased by Scribner's of New York, then sold to bookseller and rare book collector Daniel G. Siegel in June 1969. In 1992, Mr. Siegel gave the manuscript to the Brown University Library (Providence, USA).