After passing his India Office examination in 1922, Orwell joined the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma, one of three new recruits posted there that year. Orwell was to resign in 1927: writing in The Road to Wigan Pier (see next lot), he explained, "I felt that I had got to escape not merely from imperialism but from every form of man's dominion over man. I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against their tyrants."
Although he began the Burmese Days as early as 1931, it was not until the July of 1933 that Orwell had a first draft of the novel. It would take another five months before a final draft was ready for Leonard Moore to present to Victor Gollancz, who had published Down and Out in Paris and London earlier that year.
It was Mabel Fierz had introduced Orwell to Moore after salvaging the manuscript for Down and Out from the writer's discarded papers. After first meeting Orwell in Southwold, Suffolk, Mabel and her husband Francis became close friends with the writer and often invited him to stay at their house in Golders Green. On one such occasion, Orwell gave Mabel the manuscript, which had just been rejected by Faber, and telling her to save only the paperclips, said she should throw it away. Instead she took it in person to Moore who in turn took it to Gollancz. In gratitude, thereafter Orwell presented Mabel with signed copies of all his published works.
However, when it came to Burmese Days Gollancz rejected the novel, fearing a possible libel case, and was followed by both Heinemann and Cape. Finally, Harper & Brothers in New York agreed to publish the book, which appeared in October 1934 in a first edition of 2,000 copies.
The British edition followed the next summer, for which Orwell revised some details of the text to distance it further from his own experiences. However, once these appeared in print he regretted the amendments, and thereafter referred to the American edition as "the true first edition" and the British as "a garbled version and should NOT be followed".
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