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Fact Check-Quote misattributed to George Orwell about society drifting from the truth continues to circulate online

A quote dating back to a 2009 opinion piece has been repeatedly misattributed to British writer George Orwell.

It reads: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”

Reuters identified iterations of the misattributed quote that have been circulating since at least September 2012 ( here, here).

Recent Facebook posts with it have been shared over 83,700 times as of the writing of this article ( here, here, here, here).

In previous months of 2021, the quote was also shared by verified Facebook accounts and public pages, gaining tens of thousands of shares ( here, here, here, here).

Reuters did not find the quotation in the University College London Orwell Archive, visible here.

Benedict Cooper, Publicity Officer for the Orwell Society, told Reuters via email that the quote “has been falsely attributed to Orwell.”

It was in fact coined by Selwyn Duke, a freelance writer who describes himself as a “teller of Truth and leftists' worst nightmare” in his Twitter bio ( twitter.com/SelwynDuke ).

The words were part an opinion piece published on the website of grassroots organization RenewAmerica on May 6, 2009. See last paragraph here here: here).

The piece did mention Orwell, but did not attribute these words to him.

Addressing the mix up in a 2016 article for website American Thinker, Duke wrote: “The problem is, Orwell never said it. And I ought to know. Because I said it. (Or, to be precise, I wrote it.)” ( here )

Contacted by Reuters, Duke confirmed the quote was his.

Reuters has previously addressed other quotations erroneously attributed to Orwell here here.

In September 2021, Snopes addressed this quote here.

VERDICT

Misattributed. This repeatedly misattributed quote to British author George Orwell originated in a 2009 opinion piece by Selwyn Duke.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work   here   .     

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