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In Our Time - Animal Farm

4 Extra Debut. Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss George Orwell's Animal Farm, which he struggled to publish in WW2 as the USSR was an ally. From 2016.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Animal Farm, which Eric Blair published under his pen name George Orwell in 1945.

A biting critique of totalitarianism, particularly Stalinism, the essay sprung from Orwell's experiences fighting Fascists in Spain: he thought that all on the left were on the same side, until the dominant Communists violently suppressed the Anarchists and Trotskyists, and Orwell had to escape to France to avoid arrest.

Setting his satire in an English farm, Orwell drew on the Russian Revolution of 1917, on Stalin's cult of personality and the purges. The leaders on Animal Farm are pigs, the secret police are attack dogs, the supporters who drown out debate with "four legs good, two legs bad" are sheep.

At first, London publishers did not want to touch Orwell's work out of sympathy for the USSR, an ally of Britain in the Second World War, but the Cold War gave it a new audience and Animal Farm became a commercial as well as a critical success.


Steven Connor - Grace 2 Professor of English at the University of Cambridge

Mary Vincent - Professor of Modern European History at the University of Sheffield

Robert Colls - Professor of Cultural History at De Montfort University

Producer: Simon Tillotson

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2016.

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Mon 23 Aug 2021 04:30


Steven Connor at the University of Cambridge

Mary Vincent at the University of Sheffield

Robert Colls at De Montfort University

George Orwell – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Animal Farm - Wikipedia



Gordon Bowker, George Orwell (Little, Brown, 2003)

Tom Buchanan, The Impact of the Spanish Civil War on Britain (Sussex Academic Press, 2006)

Robert Colls, George Orwell: English Rebel (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life (Secker and Warburg, 1980)

Valentine Cunningham (ed.), Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1986)

Hugo García, The Truth about Spain!: Mobilizing British Public Opinion, 1936-1939 (Sussex Academic Press, 2009)

Daniel J. Leab, Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007)

Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds.), As I Please 1943-1945: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3 (Harcourt, 1968)

Daphne Patai, The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology (University of Massachusetts Press, 1984)

Paul Preston, The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge (William Collins, 2016)

Richard Rees, George Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory (Secker & Warburg, 1961)

Raymond Williams, George Orwell (Viking Adult, 1971)

George Woodcock, The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell (Black Rose Books, 1967)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Steven Connor
Interviewed Guest Mary Vincent
Interviewed Guest Robert Colls
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 29 Sep 2016 09:00
  • Thu 29 Sep 2016 21:30
  • Sun 22 Aug 2021 16:30
  • Mon 23 Aug 2021 04:30

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