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Ear to the Ground

George Orwell Nearly Died Halfway Through Writing ‘1984’

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Posted on Dec 3, 2013
Axel Schwenke (CC-BY-SA)

One of the most important books ever written almost never happened.

According to George Orwell’s son, the author and a good chunk of his family fell out of a boat and into the world’s third-biggest whirlpool near his home in Jura, Scotland. This was at a time when “1984” was only half written.

Of course Orwell survived the scare and completed the manuscript. While that may have made his a household name, writing and rewriting the book was so exhausting, it may have been the reason the author died only a year after its publication.

His son, Richard Blair, remembers via The Telegraph:

“I think that the real crippler was him having to rewrite the entire manuscript so that it could be published,” said Mr Blair. “He tried to get hold of a secretary and nobody would come up to Jura.

“So he had to sit down and type the entire manuscript. It was a complete shambles. Just pages and pages of typing, handwritten, crossed out, rewritten, and someone had to plough their way through that, so he had to do it himself. I think by the time he got to having done it, he kind of sat back and said, ‘Well that’s me – finished. Completely and utterly.’”

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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