Lot Number 139
Year Published
Place Printed NEW YORK
Description ORWELL, GEORGE NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. NEW YORK: HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, 1949 8vo, first American edition, inscribed by Orwell to Osbert Sitwell, original grey cloth, title stamped in red on upper cover surrounded by a torn paper design, spine similarly decorated, dust-jacket, jacket rubbed at extremities, and with one or two nicks
Comments LITERATURE Fenwick A.12b, calling for the jacket on a blue background (present copy is red) CATALOGUE NOTE A superb association copy, inscribed in the author’s hand “Osbert Sitwell | from | Geo. Orwell”, attesting to a relatively undocumented literary friendship. The first American edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on 13 June 1949, just five days after the first British edition. By the summer of that year Orwell was gravely ill, and it is likely that this copy was inscribed in the sanatorium at Cranham, Gloucester, or possibly University College Hospital London, where he was moved in September 1949. Although Orwell and Sitwell are both famous Old Etonians, they were not contemporaries. According to Orwell’s diaries, they first met on 21 September 1942: "[Sitwell] said that in Cornwall in case of invasion the Home Guard have orders to shoot all artists. I said that in Cornwall this might be all for the best. Sitwell: 'Some instinct would lead them to the good ones'". They also met later, towards the end of Orwell’s life, under the auspices of the Freedom Defence Committee, an organisation founded in 1945 to protect and promote “rights to freedom of speech, writing and action”. Orwell was the Vice Chairman of the committee and Sitwell its co-founder; they were both co-signatories of an open fundraising letter from the Committee published in the Socialist Leader on 18 September 1948. Certainly Orwell and Sitwell held each other in high regard. Orwell’s last book review, published in The Adelphi (1948), was of the third volume of Sitwell’s autobiography, in which he writes that his work “must be among the best autobiographies of our time”. Similarly, Sitwell was an admirer of Orwell, as evidenced is his annotation to Orwell's essay, “Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool” which led the March 1947 issue of Polemic magazine (pp. 2-16). Alongside Orwell's comments about how the play would have been greatly improved by cutting out one daughter, Edgar, Gloucester and Gloucester's sons, Sitwell has written "My God! he gives the clue to the whole play" (copy in private collection). It is also known that Sitwell presented Orwell with a copy of Left Hand Right Hand shortly after the war. Sotheby's is grateful to Adrian Woodhouse for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
Estimated Price GBP 20,000.00 - 30,000.00
( USD 33,600.00 - 50,400.00 )
Actual Price GBP 46,850.00 ( USD 75,428.50 )



Auction House Sothebys
Auction Name English Literature and History
Sale Number #L12408
Auction Date December 12, 2012 - December 12, 2012
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