At first, George Orwell found it difficult to get published. His masterpiece Animal Farm was rejected by the major publisher in the UK at the time, Faber & Faber. The 1944 rejection letter from T.S. Eliot (no less), who was serving in the capacity of editorial advisor, reads:
We [the directors] agree that it is a distinguished piece of writing; that the fable is very skillfully handled, and that the narrative keeps one’s interest on it own plane–and that is something that very few authors have achieved since Gulliver. On the other hand, we have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticize the political situation at the present time [WWII]. . . . I am very sorry because whoever published this will naturally have the opportunity of publishing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity. . . .
Eliot, the ultimate Tory, did want want to upset the Soviets in the tough times of WWII. Besides, he noted, the pigs were the smartest of the farm animals, and were therefore the best qualified to rule.
This must be one of the oddest rejection slips ever. Animal Farm was eventually published by a small socialist house. Its success was immediate. Orwell must have taken pleasure in the fact that the book’s profits didn’t go to a capitalist publisher.
The book publishers had no qualms about going with 1984, an immediate best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic. Orwell, a writer long associated with the left, was a well-known socialist figure. Against that background 1984 was not conceived as a repudiation of socialist ideals, but as a warning for what might happen if the trends evident in 1948 continued (dividing up the world). When the book was hailed by the right-wing press generally, Orwell was so bothered by their simple anti-Communist interpretation that he sent out a press release outlining the book’s intended meaning.