On June 7, I published my FLOG; a letter to George Orwell, who wrote 1984 in 1948.
Much to my surprise George wrote back (via the dead letter office):
Thanks for your letter of June 6. It was good of you to write me two days before the 64th anniversary of the publication of 1984 in London Wednesday, June 8, 1949, and in New York five days later. As a writer you can relate to my situation in 1948 when I had to finish that wretched book, which, thanks to illness, I had been messing about with for 18 months and which the publishers were harrying me for.' I was literally (no pun intended) cooped up alone in a stuffy wooden 15ft by12ft hut in a TB sanatorium on the Hebridean island of Jura near Stroud in Gloucestershire in the cold and damp, the worst possible climate for tuberculosis. My manuscript, of course, was illegible. I began to relapse about the end of September and should have done something about it then because I died January 21, 1950.
I saw none of the millions earned by my books, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four. My second wife, Sonia inherited nothing. My first wife, Eileen O'Shuaghnessy, died unexpectedly in 1945. We had adopted a son, Richard Blair. Orwell was my pseudonym. My real name was Eric Arthur Blair. My so-called accountant, Jack Harrison, whom I had known for several months before I died, took most of the money. In 1958 Harrison belatedly told Sonia of my deathbed offer for him to take 25% of GOP's shares. He said he did not recall why he had waited eight years to tell her. Also in 1958, without her knowledge, Harrison transferred 75% of the voting stock from Sonia to himself, rendering her powerless over anything the company did. Harrison died some years ago, a very wealthy man. New legal evidence points to flagrant fraud.
Within 12 months, 1984 had sold around 50,000 hardbacks in the UK; in the U.S. sales were more than one-third of a million. It became a phenomenon.
Sixty years later, no one can say how many millions of copies are in print, both in legitimate editions and samizdat (since Russians weren’t allowed to read such material, so readers made copies and passed them around) versions. It has been adapted for radio, stage, television and cinema, has been studied, copied and parodied and, above all, ransacked for its ideas and images.
Thanks to a young guy named Edward Snowden who dropped a metadata bomb on Obama, the U.S.A., the NSA, Credit Card Companies, Verizon Wireless, China, the Internet et al, in four days Amazon sales of 1984 are up 9,550%.
If you think that’s a lot, America’s Celebrity pawnbroker Les Gold's book of "business wisdom," For What It's Worth, is up 66,659% according to Amazon.
On my death bed, my publisher told me that Nineteen Eighty-Four had been bought by the Book-of-the-Month Club in America and estimated it would earn me £40,000. I never saw the money, of course. By 1972, Nineteen Eighty-Four had sold one million copies in its UK Penguin edition alone. In America by 1969 nearly eight million paperbacks had sold and 360,000 hardbacks. The figures for Animal Farm were roughly the same. My publisher said that the rate of sale of both novels was doubling every 10 years.
A writer's estate now remains in copyright for 75 years after death, so Richard, now 69-years-old has until 2025 to reap the benefits of my estate and should be rolling in the dough as long as Edward Snowden keeps his mouth open. And as long as Big Brother watches over both of them.
Thanks for the Flog-munique - nobody contacts me much these days (I assume the NSA knows what I'm thinking anyway).