George Orwell's '1984' Returned to Library 65 Years Late, With Note Saying It's Needed Now 'More Than Ever'

1984 Returned to Library
An Oregon library was very happy to receive a copy of George Orwell's "1984," even though it had been checked out 65 years ago.Getty/Stock Image

The 86-year-old finally returned the book after borrowing it in 1958.

An 86-year-old in Oregon had a crisis of conscience and returned a first edition of George Orwell's classic novel "1984" after borrowing it 65 years ago as a college student.

The unknown person also had a bad feeling about current events. "More than ever, this book should be put back in circulation," read a typed letter accompanying the tome that was signed only with the initials "WP."

Orwell's best-known work, a dystopian novel released in 1949 that has frightened and fixated readers, chronicled a petrifying world in which the government controlled every aspect of daily life and spied on residents with terror-inducing warnings that "Big Brother" was constantly watching them.

"After re-reading, I realize that, more than ever, this book should be put back in circulation," the note said. "Significant parts are as relevant today as they were 65 tears [sic] ago," it said. "Sorry to be so tardy. At age 86, I wanted to finally clear my conscience.

"Simply add the words internet and social media, and you (are) reading about 2023," the letter said.

The Multnomah County Library took to Facebook to herald the book's return, saying the patron would not be fined. "Conscience cleared," the library wrote.

The book had a resurgence of popularity after Donald Trump moved into the White House. After his inauguration, sales increased by 9,500%, according to publishers Signet Classics, which ordered 100,000 more copies of Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm."

The former novel shot to the top of Amazon's book sales after Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the administration was issuing "alternative facts" after being caught in a lie about the size of the public crowd at his swearing-in ceremony.

The Oregon book borrower said they meant to return "1984," which was checked out in 1958 when the person graduated from Portland State University, "but somehow never got around to doing it," the note said. 

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