Life in 1949

Legendary magazine Life devoted much of its 4 July 1949 edition to Orwell’s new book. The article featured original cartoons by New Yorker illustrator Abner Dean which seem very curious to our eyes (a bit like Donald McGill illustrating Newsweek’s Libya Special – Nineteen-Eighty-Four wasn’t yet “Nineteen-Eighty-Four”. The tone of the article and that issue’s editorial is typical of Life. The magazine is remembered as the classic organ of concerned photojournalism, but the politics of the photographers were sometimes at odds with the leader writers. In this issue they predict: “Many readers in England [that’s near London–DD] will find that his book reinforces a growing suspicion that some of the British Laborites revel in austerity and would love to preserve it… “
They couldn’t let the opportunity of using the book to bash supporters of an American welfare system: “Some of the most dedicated of the U.S. proponents of the welfare state… have appeared almost as remote from their followers, and as determined to remake mankind into a new pattern regardless of man’s own wishes, as Oceania’s Big Brother”.

Orwell was not best pleased with the angle his American publishers were trying to put on the book. He wrote to them stating; “My recent novel is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter)…”

Download a pdf of the article here. 


About daviddunnico

Aye up – I'm a documentary photographer from Manchester in the UK. This is an occasional blog all about me, me, me. Well actually it's just about my photography.

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