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George Orwell – First Edition Books: Identification Guide

George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950), known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is characterised by lucid prose, biting social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

As a writer, Orwell produced literary criticism and poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working-class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), are as critically respected as his essays on politics and literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked George Orwell second among “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

Orwell’s writings were influence by many writers, In an autobiographical piece that Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote: “The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is W. Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills.”

Orwell’s work remains influential in popular culture and in political culture, and the adjective “Orwellian”—describing totalitarian and authoritarian social practices—is part of the English language, like many of his neologisms, such as “Big Brother”, “Thought Police”, “Two Minutes Hate”, “Room 101”, “memory hole”, “Newspeak”, “doublethink”, “unperson”, and “thoughtcrime”, as well as providing direct inspiration for the neologism “groupthink”.

George Orwell – First Editions Identification Guide

How to Identify First Edition books by George Orwell
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/Printing Identification Points
1933Down and Out in Paris and LondonLondon: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1933Black calico-textured cloth on boards. Yellow Dust jacket (8s/6d). Published 9 January 1933. 1500 copies printed.
ALSO: 1933. Second (500 copies) & Third impression (1000 copies) were issued later January 1933. "First published January 1933 | Second impression January 1933 | Third impression January 1933." stated on © page.
ALSO: Harper & Brothers Publishers, NY, 1933. First American edition. Pale purple calico-textured cloth on boards. Pale green Dust jacket ($2.50). "No. 2414" at foot of front flap and "No. 2413." at foot of rear flap. Published 30 June 1933. 1750 copies printed.
1934Burmese DaysHarper & Brothers Publishers, NY, 1934Orange calico grain cloth on boards. Dull yellow and off white floral swirl endpapers.Yellow Dust jacket ($2.50). First American edition, precedded the UK edition a year. "FIRST EDITION | I-I" stated on © page. Published 25 October 1934. 2000 copies printed.
ALSO: Second US impression, 1934. "SECOND EDITION | K-I" stated on © page.
ALSO: London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1935. First English edition. Black calico textured cloth on boards. Yellow Dust jacket, with Clergyman's Daughter reviews on front/back flap (7s/6d). Published 24 June 1935. 1500 copies printed. Note: There was a second printing of 500 copies.
1935A Clergyman's DaughterLondon: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1935Black calico-textured cloth on boards. Front and back cover plain. Yellow Dust jacket with excerpt reviews for Down and out in Paris and London (7s/6d). Misprint on p. 188: "Blask Mask" for "Black Mask"". Published 11 March 1935. 2000 copies printed.
ALSO: Harper & Brothers Publishers, NY, 1936. First American edition. Blue calico textured cloth on boards.. Cream Dust jacket, printed in pink & black on front cover ($2.50). Error on the spine being stamped "The Clergyman’s Daughter". Published 17 August 1936. 1000 copies printed.
1936Keep the Aspidistra FlyingLondon: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1936Blue calico textured cloth on boards. Yellow Dust jacket(7s/6d). Published 20 April 1936. 3000 copies printed.
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1956]. First American edition. Green calico textured cloth on boards. Cream Dust jacket ($3.75). "FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, 1956" stated on © page. Published January 1956.
1937The Road to Wigan PierLondon: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1937Limp orange cloth. Left Book Club Edition (Not for Sale to the Public). Two variants:, priory as listed: (A) 200 copies were bound without the foreword. (B) Bound with foreword.
Note: In some copies the illustrations are placed in the wrong order, 1—16 following 17—32. priority undetermined. 44,150 copies printed. Yellow Dust jacket (2s/6d).
ALSO: London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1937. First English trade edition. Blue calico textured cloth on boards. Yellow Dust jacket (10s/6d). Published 8 March 1937. 2150 copies printed.
Notes: This is really only a reissue of the first edition, without the foreword, with a new title page, and in a variant binding.ALSO: London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1937. Limp orange cloth. Reissue of Part 1 of the Left Book Club Edition. "PART ONE ONLY" stated on the front cover. (1s). 890 copies printed.
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1958]. First American edition. Blue calico-textured cloth on boards. Off white Dust jacket.
1938Homage to CataloniaLondon: Secker and Warburg, 1938Green calico textured cloth on boards. Cream Dust jacket (10s/6d). "First Published April 1938" stated on © page. Published 25 April 1938. 1500 copies printed. Misprint on p. 236, line 3 "where a comma is omitted after "In fact".
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1952. First American edition. Yellow calico textured cloth on boards.. Cream Dust jacket, front and spine speckled green ($3.50). "first American edition" stated on © page. Published May 1952. 4000 copies printed.
1939Coming Up for AirLondon: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1939Blue calico textured cloth on boards. Yellow Dust jacket(7s/6d). Published 12 June 1939. 2000 copies printed.
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1950]. First American edition. Grey calico textured cloth on boards. Cream Dust jacket, printed in green and blue ($3.95). "COPYRIGHT, 1950, BY | HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC" stated on © page. Published 19 January 1950. 8000 copies printed.
1941The Lion and the UnicornLondon: Secker and Warburg, 1941Mottled grey linen grain cloth on boards. Cream and blue Dust jacket (2s). "First published 1941" stated on © page. Published 19 February 1941. 5000 copies printed.
1945Animal FarmLondon: Secker and Warburg, 1945Green calico textured cloth on boards. Dust jacket printed in grey & green (6s). "First Published May 1945" stated on © page. Published 17 August 1945. 4500 copies printed.
Note: There were two reprints in August, 1945 (10000 copies) & October 1946 (6000 copes) with "Reprinted [DATE]" stated on © page.
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1946]. Black calico textured cloth on boards. Black Dust jacket ($1.75). First American edition. "first American edition" stated on © page. Published 26 August 1946. 50,000 copies printed.
ALSO: Reginald Saunders, Toronto, [1946]. Fist Canadian edition. Red calico textured cloth on boards. Black Dust jacket ($2.00). "first Canadian edition" stated on © page. Published November 1946. 2000 copies printed.
1949Nineteen Eighty-FourLondon: Secker and Warburg, 1949Green calico-textured cloth on boards. Two variants Dust jacket: red and green(10s). "First published 1949" stated on © page. Published 8 June 1949. 25,575 copies printed.
ALSO: Harcourt, Brace and Company, [1949]. First American edition. Grey calico grain cloth on boards. Two variants Dust jacket, blue & red ($3.00). "first American edition" stated on © page. Published 13 June 1949. 20,000 copies printed.
ALSO: Book of the Month Club reissue. Same binding as First American edition. No mention of "first American edition" on © page. Dust jacket has "Book of the Month Club" at foot of the front flap. Over 190,000pp.
ALSO: S.J. Reginald Saunders Ltd., Toronto, [1949]. First Canadian edition. Same binding as First American edition. "first Canadian edition" stated on © page. 15,000 copies printed.

George Orwell – First Printing Dust Jackets Identification Guide

Gallery of First edition Dust Jackets of Orwell’s works. Including First UK and US edition Dust Jackets.

Reference:

  • Wikipedia
  • Gillian Fenwick: George Orwell, A Bibliography

BOOKSTORE: Rare, Antiquarian, First editions, Illustrated Children's Books

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