Animal Farm (First Edition) by George Orwell
Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell (1903-1950). The first edition of this work was published under the title: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story in 1945 by Secker and Warburg (London), and the American edition in 1946 under simply Animal Farm. Background
Orwell was a democratic socialist. He was against Joseph Stalin’s plans in Russia, and used this novel to satirise the events that occurred as a result of Stalinism, and the methods invoked by his communist policy.
The manuscript was written between 1943 and 1944, partly inspired by Orwell’s experience of the Spanish Civil War. The Ministry of Information had also released a booklet instructing propagandists how to still fears of the Soviet Union. As a result, Orwell stopped working for the BBC.
There were many problems publishing the work, as it was feared it may be politically disruptive, with many publishers rejecting the manuscript. Secker and Warburg published it in 1945.
The book is considered a classic, and one of the best English works of literature.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The characters are animals living on a farm. A revolution against their human oppressors is kindled, and two pigs lead a revolt, driving the farmer from the farm and claiming it as their own. They adopt something similar to a communist way of life, claiming that all animals are equal. The situation begins well, with animals learning to read and write, and plenty of food for all.
One pig called Napoleon declares himself in charge. Gradually it becomes apparent that he and others have more control and power, and are behaving more and more like humans, drinking alcohol and wearing clothes. Napoleon begins to abuse his power and soon the animals are no longer equal, but more oppressed than ever.
Napoleon maintains the utopia of Animal Farm has been created. Towards the end the pigs faces begin to look more and more human.
The novel uses allegory to condemn the activities of Stalin and his communist policy, and the misuse of the power gained in revolution. It suggests the flaw in revolution is the corruption of the leader.
George Orwell is one of the most respected political fiction writers in history, and considered a master raconteur of 20th century English culture.
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
First editions in their original bindings are much more valuable, so it is not recommended to restore these works. If they also possess the original dustwrapper that is even better. Copies increase in value almost outrageously if they are signed/inscribed by Orwell, as is demonstrated in the prices realised below:
Signed first editions of Animal Farm (1945, Secker and Warburg, London) were sold by Sothebys for $50,400 in November 2004, and £31,200 in June 2007.
Unsigned first editions were sold by Bloomsbury Auctions for $2,200 in December 2008, by Christie’s New York for $2640 in June 2005, and $2,185 in December 1993, and by Sothebys for £2,400 in June 2007.