Trotskyite: that’s the word T. S. Eliot used to describe George Orwell upon reading an early draft of Animal Farm. The book, of course, is now a staple of most high school English classes (let alone “most influential literature” lists).
In his 1944 rejection letter on behalf of publisher Faber & Faber, Eliot praised Orwell’s writing but found the story’s argument “not convincing.” In the poet’s defense, Animal Farm’s main character is a pig named Snowball.
Eliot wasn’t the only publisher who passed. Orwell received four rejections, including one from his usual publisher who said releasing such a politically controversial work would be “ill-advised” during what was then the height of World War II.
But Orwell got the last word. Animal Farm arrived on bookshelves in 1945 thanks to Secker & Warburg, with Orwell using the preface to share this dismal reflection on self-censorship: “Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.”
Feel like challenging the prevailing orthodoxy? Channel your inner Orwell and enter this Eurocities essay contest about the future of citizenry.