“I had in mind Nineteen eighty-four when it was made.” Patrick McGoohan


Generally considered to have had more influence than any other book of the past 100 years, ‘1984’ is Orwell’s most famous work that impacted hugely when it was first published and to this day continues to echo down the decades. It has given us terms like ‘Big Brother’, the ‘Thought Police’, ‘Room 101’, even the term ‘Orwellian’ that are all instantly recognisable shorthand for aspects of a dystopian future. It’s almost impossible to talk about propaganda, surveillance, authoritarian politics, or perversions of truth without making a reference to 1984. During the Cold War, the smuggled novel found avid underground readers behind the Iron Curtain who wondered, “How did he know?” Stalin’s Soviet Russia provided the direct inspiration for this novel, as it did for Orwell’s other famous work, ‘Animal Farm’, which is described as an allegorical fable, a satirical novella directly importing the protagonists, the politics, the events of the ‘communist’ dictatorship. Orwell wrote ‘Animal Farm’ because he wanted to tell the true story of the Russian Revolution in a way anyone could understand, even if they didn't know all the historical details. Although Orwell wrote it with the USSR in mind, it has a wider reach. Different totalitarian states have different justifications for their rule, but ‘Animal Farm’ suggests that all totalitarian regimes are fundamentally the same: those in power care only about maintaining their power by any means necessary, and they do so by oppressing the individual and the lower classes. The book’s most famous line often quoted is, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.


Animal Farm was published in 1945. Orwell retreated to a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura in Scotland in 1947 to write 1984 which was published in 1949. Orwell completed the book in 1948 being seriously ill with tuberculosis that was to take his life in 1950 at the tragically early age of 46.


As 1984 was such an influence on McGoohan this novel is more widely discussed in both ‘Origins, Sources, and Inspirations’ and referenced in the ‘A Change of Mind’ chapter. Of course, Orwell is known for far more than these two books, so I would like to conclude this section with a few noteworthy observations from the many clear insights that are relevant from amongst his other writings.  I have taken all Orwell quotes from the book, ‘Orwell on Truth’.  “The further a Society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” “The imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity.” “It is known that newspapers are habitually untruthful, but it is also known that they cannot tell lies of more than a certain magnitude.” “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”