George Orwell photograph over green background

70 Years Later, British Council Apologizes for George Orwell Rejection

If you’re into easy little phrases with all the emotional depths of a greeting card condolence, you might’ve heard or used the phrase ‘it’s never too late to apologize.’ Here’s the question: is this truism actually true? Is it really never too late—even if the person’s dead? We’d ask George Orwell whether this widely held assumption applied to a recent apology he received, but he’s not exactly available for commentary.

 

George Orwell

Image Via George Orwell Biography

 

In 1946, the British Council commissioned Orwell to write an essay on the country’s cuisine in an attempt to spread British culture throughout the world (because, apparently, the empire hadn’t already done the job). When Orwell wrote the essay he was paid for, the organization declined the publication. By this point, Orwell was already a novelist of some acclaim, having published Animal Farm the year prior. The man wasn’t J.K. Rowling—no bizarre allegorical theme park—but he was not a man to spurn. Unfortunately for Orwell, there was the matter of the stringent food rations in the U.K. at the time, and the audience was hungry for everything but culinary content. The Council informed Orwell of their concerns… and the rejection:

I am so sorry such a seemingly stupid situation has arisen with your manuscript [due to] doubts on such a treatment of the painful subject of Food in these times. Apart from one or two minor criticisms, I think it is excellent, [but] it would be unfortunate and unwise to publish it for the continental reader.

While the Council may not have had the foresight not to commission the essay, they had the hindsight to issue a formal apology. “Over seventy years later,” began editor Alasdair Donaldson in his official statement, “the British Council is delighted to make amends for its slight on perhaps the UK’s greatest political writer of the 20th century, by reproducing the original essay in full.” You can check it out here or continue reading for the highlights.

 

Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding, for all the Americans imagining a VANILLA SNACK PACK
Image Via BBC

 

The essay includes many of Orwell’s own recipes so that you can live like the artist himself… without the tuberculosis. Of course, just because he’s a literary genius doesn’t mean he’s a genius in the kitchen. (Orwell’s editor said of his orange marmalade: “bad recipe; too much sugar and water!”) After dropping some other recipes for plum cake and pudding, he moves onto what might be some passive-aggression towards the British diet. “British people… combine sugar with meat,” he observes delicately, “in a way that is seldom seen elsewhere.”

Below, we’ve included the infamous marmalade recipe. Try it for yourself to see if Orwell really was a man of taste.

 

Orwell's orange marmalade recipe

Image Via Flickr

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 seville oranges
  • 2 sweet oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 3.6kg of preserving sugar
  • 4.5 litres of water

Wash and dry the fruit. Halve them and squeeze out the juice. Remove some of the pith, then shred the fruit finely. Tie the pips in a muslin bag. Put the strained juice, rind and pips into the water and soak for 48 hours. Place in a large pan and simmer for an hour and a half until the rind is tender. Leave to stand overnight, then add the sugar and let it dissolve before bringing to the boil. Boil rapidly until a little of the mixture will set into a jelly when placed on a cold plate. Pour into jars which have been heated beforehand and cover with paper covers.

 

Featured Image Via School of Life on YouTube