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LAWRENCE — A recent discovery by a University of Kansas sociologist reveals that author George Orwell not only vocally advocated human rights but attempted, in the years between writing “Animal Farm” in 1945 and “1984” in 1949, to found an international body that would defend human rights in the tense aftermath of World War II. His partners in this project were also renowned: the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the novelist Arthur Koestler.

In his new book, “George Orwell Illustrated,” Professor David N. Smith offers an encompassing look at Orwell’s life, writings and worldview, with illustrations by artist Mike Mosher. Smith also presents and discusses a previously unpublished document that he found in an obscure archive: a manifesto that Orwell wrote in 1946 in dialogue with Koestler and Russell.

Smith said that two things stood out regarding the manifesto. To begin with, Orwell seldom wrote with co-authors. Second, the manifesto was written for a directly constructive purpose.

“In his essays, Orwell was mainly a cultural commentator,” Smith said, “but in this document, with Russell and Koestler, he called for a new international organization, which they themselves planned to organize.”

Orwell is best known, of course, for the dystopia “1984,” which …read more