, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 159–165 | Cite as

The "Orwellian" Night of December 12

  • John RoddenEmail author


Although it is rare that one can pinpoint an historical moment in which a writer’s public reputation is “launched,” the day of destiny is clear in George Orwell’s case: Sunday, 12 December 1954. BBC-TV’s adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four that night, and especially the debates in the British press that ensued for three weeks thereafter, ignited controversy that permanently boosted sales of his dystopian novel and made his very name as proper adjective—“Orwellian”—a household word. Sixty Decembers ago, the iconic figure of “Orwell”—the mythic bogeyman rather than a writer or literary figure—became one of the first examples of a celebrity created by modern television. George Orwell’s posthumous fame owes less to his strictly literary achievement than to the Zeitgeist’s embrace of his work in the era of the telescreen.


George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four Animal Farm Reader’s Digest Life Henry Luce British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Nigel Keale Cold War National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Telescreen Family programming Malcolm Muggeridge Reputation Fame Celebrity Image 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeorgetownUSA

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