The Cover of George Orwell’s 1984 Becomes Less Censored with Wear and Tear

1984 before

In 2013, Penguin released in the UK a series of new covers for five works by George Orwell, including a particularly bold cover design for Orwell’s best-known work, 1984. According to Creative Review, the designer, David Pearson, made it so that the book’s title and Orwell’s name were debossed, then almost completely obscured by black foiling, leaving just “enough of a dent for the title to be determined.” (Get a glimpse here.) No doubt, the design plays on the whole idea of censorship, “referencing the rewriting of history carried out by the novel’s Ministry of Truth.”

Three years later, you’ll have difficulty buying new copies of Pearson’s design. They’re in pretty short supply. But anyone with a well-worn copy of the book might discover what one Redditor has also observed–that the cover design “becomes less censored with wear.” Compare the “before” image above to the “after” image down below. Was this all part of Pearson’s long-range master plan? Or something of a design flaw? We’ll probably never know. But if you’re looking for a book that gets better with age, then this is one to add to your list.

1984 after

Looking for a free, professionally-read audio book version of Orwell’s 1984? Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free trial with, you can download two free audio books of your choice, and that can include 1984. Get more details on the offer here.

via Reddit

Related Content:

Hear the Very First Adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 in a Radio Play Starring David Niven (1949)

George Orwell Explains in a Revealing 1944 Letter Why He’d Write 1984

Free Online Literature Courses

Huxley to Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours (1949)

by | Permalink | Comments (5) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (5)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Brian Johnson says:

    Information and ideas are stronger than the censorship that blocks them. The truth will come through.

  • Graeme Bristol says:

    As far as I know, since the coup in 2014, it is still banned in Thailand. Some students are carrying it around as a symbol of protest. This book is not likely to ever lose its currency. Would that the world were different.

  • Rebecca says:

    “Was this all part of Pearson’s long-range master plan? Or something of a design flaw? We’ll probably never know.” Perhaps indulge in a little old fashioned journalism and call him and ask! His contact information is all online.

  • mike hire says:

    I saved four copies of Washington Post Jan. 1st 1984.
    No idea what to do with ’em ….

    Good post, thanks


  • C Moore says:

    After attending a lecture by David Pearson at my university and speaking to him afterwards he revealed that the ‘wear’ and decay of the book was never supposed to happen but it was a happy result that people sent him pictures of after the release of the cover.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.