Alwyn W. Turner at Literary Review:
What a difference a decade makes. In 1940 George Orwell published his eighth book, the essay collection Inside the Whale, but when the Nazis in the same year drew up a list of Britons to be arrested after the planned invasion, his name wasn’t included. It was, observes Dorian Lynskey in his superb new book, ‘a kind of snub’. By the time Orwell died in January 1950, however, he was being acclaimed around the Western world as one of the great defenders of democracy and liberty, and had just been adjudged, for the first time, worthy of an entry in Who’s Who.
Much of the acclaim then was in recognition of his novel Animal Farm, but in the years since, Orwell’s popularity has increasingly rested on his final work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, published the summer before he died. It was an instant hit, selling a quarter of a million copies in its first six months, and it’s never gone away. Current estimates say worldwide sales exceed thirty million, and it has returned periodically to the top of the bestseller lists here and in America, most recently following the election of Donald Trump.