Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell

Illustrated by Jonathan Burton

Introduced by Alan Rusbridger

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger introduces Orwell’s masterpiece in this striking new edition.

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‘Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you’

Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth — or Minitrue as it is called in Newspeak — altering newspapers and reports to follow the arbitrary dictates of Big Brother’s propaganda. Beneath his outward conformity, Winston dreams of sharing his treasonable thoughts, breaking ’the locked loneliness in which one had to live’. And so he takes his first dangerous steps — writing a diary of his doubts and then falling in love with a woman of the Party, the beautiful and brave Julia. They know their love is doomed, but Julia swears ’They can make you say anything — anything — but they can’t make you believe it. They can’t get inside you.’ In Oceania, however, there is no possibility of solidarity, rebellion or love, and the Party can get anywhere.

‘Orwell’s courage and integrity shine from every page’

  1. New York Review of Books

Winner of the Gold Medal (book category) in the Illustrators 57 competition, at the Society of Illustrators in New York.

Bound in cloth

Set in Haarlemmer with Stencil display

304 pages

Frontispiece and 9 colour illustrations

Blocked slipcase

9½˝ x 6¼˝

Orwell’s last and arguably his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four has entered the cultural consciousness. Doublethink, thoughtcrime, the Thought Police, Big Brother and Room 101 — these terms have been absorbed into our language. Its title, however, remains a mystery. Among several theories about its inspiration are that it alludes to the centenary of the Fabian Society, founded in 1884, and that it pays homage to Orwell’s favourite writer, G. K. Chesterton, whose story ’The Napoleon of Notting Hill’ is set in 1984. The novel is a satire on the totalitarian state — and the desire of the state to control not only the deeds but the thoughts and desires of those it rules. In his introduction Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, writes about why this remains such a modern concern, and why so many journalists and thinkers continually return to the novel to ask whether Orwell ’got it right’, and to what extent we are ‘all, potentially, Winston Smith’. This edition features illustrations by Jonathan Burton, whose work has appeared in many Folio editions.

‘The books have arrived and I’m speechless. I’m really proud of it and what a huge privilege it’s been to illustrate. The spine and cover make a huge statement and the red head and tail bands are a beautiful touch.’
  1. Jonathan Burton

About George Orwell

George Orwell (1903–50) was born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, India (where his father worked for the Civil Service) into what he would later call a ‘lower-upper-middle class’ family. The family returned to England in 1907 and, after studying at Eton, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police Force in Burma. Whilst in Burma he developed a critical attitude towards authority, which he evoked in his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). He resigned from the police force in 1927 and took to exploring the poverty of his home country; travelling, observing and often living as a tramp, with a view to becoming a writer. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals.

His first work of non-fiction, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published in 1936, and in the same year he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) was his powerful description of the poverty he saw there. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, experiencing the factionalism breaking apart the Republican cause and became virulently anti-Communist, a stance reflected in his Homage to Catalonia (1938). During the Second World War Orwell served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service. As literary editor of Tribune, he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary and also wrote for the Observer and the Manchester Evening News. His political satire Animal Farm was published shortly after the end of the war in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), that brought him worldwide fame. Orwell’s letters and diaries have been published posthumously by The Folio Society as an exclusive edition, selected and introduced by Orwell expert Peter Davison.

About Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger served as editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper from 1995 to 2015 . Born in Zambia, he graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English in 1976. He trained as a reporter on the Cambridge Evening News before first joining the Guardian in 1979. During his editorship the paper has fought a number of high-profile battles over libel and press freedom, and he has been named Editor of the Year three times. He is the author of three children’s books, co-author of the BBC drama Fields of Gold, and has written a full-length animation film script and a play about Beethoven. He was a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, a visiting professor of history at Queen Mary’s College, London and an honorary professor at Cardiff University.

About Jonathan Burton

Jonathan Burton has worked as an illustrator since 1999, after graduating with an MA from Kingston University, London. He has been awarded two silver medals from the Society of Illustration in New York, two Awards of Excellence from Communication Arts, and has received the Overall Professional Award for 2013 from the Association of Illustrators. For The Folio Society he has also illustrated Cover Her Face by P. D. James, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the full 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series by George R. R. Martin and the entire Hitchhiker's series along with an extraordinary limited edition of Adams’s comedic space odyssey. Most recently, he illustrated the Folio edition of The Enchanted Wood. Jonathan lives in Bordeaux, France.


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