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

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig