Feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four approved by Orwell's estate

Feminist author Sandra Newman retells the story of Nineteen Eighty-Four through the perspective of Winston Smith’s lover Julia

Published

The estate of George Orwell has signed off on a feminist retelling of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, saying it had been “looking for some time” for an author to tell the story of Winston Smith’s lover Julia.

Orwell’s estate approved a retelling by Sandra Newman, who has previously been long-listed for the Women’s prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award.

A spokesperson from estate of George Orwell said Sandra Newman's version of the book “proved to be the perfect fit”.

The 1949 original novel's introduction begins with one of literature’s most famous lines – “It was a bright cold day in April and the clock struck thirteen”.

George Orwell’s 1949 novel takes place in a dystopian future in which Britain, known as Airstrip One, is part of the totalitarian state of Oceania. Big Brother rules supremely, and the Thought Police knocks out any individual mindset.

Winston Smith works in The Ministry of Truth and rewrites the story to fit Big Brother’s narrative. He starts a forbidden affair with Julia – who works on the novel typewriters in the fiction department – until both are captured and sent for re-education via room 101.

In Julia by Sandra Newman, Publisher Granta explains how the events of the Nineteen Eighty-Four are seen through the woman’s eyes.

“It was the man from Records who started it, he completely ignorant in his primo, gloomy way, his over-it-all old way of thinking. He was the one Syme called ‘Old Misery,'” writes Newman.

“Comrade Smith was his real name, though ‘Comrade’ never suited him in any way. Of course, if you felt stupid calling someone ‘Comrade’, it’s far better not to talk to them at all. “

Publisher Granta said Julia understands the world of Oceania “far better than Winston and is basically happy with her life”.