- Charles Dickens, 1939
- Boys' Weeklies, 1940
- Wells, Hitler and the World State, 1941
- The Art of Donald McGill, 1941
- Rudyard Kipling, 1942
- W. B. Yeats, 1943
- Benefit of Clergy: Some notes on Salvador Dali, 1944
- Arthur Koestler, 1944
- Raffles and Miss Blandish, 1944
- In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse, 1946
Most of these essays have appeared in print before, and several of them more than once. "Charles Dickens" and "Boys' Weeklies" appeared in my book, Inside the Whale. "Boys' Weeklies" also appeared in Horizon, as did "Wells, Hitler and the World State", "The Art of Donald McGill", "Rudyard Kipling", "W. B. Yeats" and "Raffles and Miss Blandish". The last-named essay also appeared in the New York monthly magazine, Politics. A shortened version of "The Art of Donald McGill" appeared in the Strand Magazine. "Arthur Koestler" was written for Focus, but will probably not have appeared there before this book is published. "In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse" appeared in The Windmill. "Benefit of Clergy" made a sort of phantom appearance in the Saturday Book for 1944. The book was in print when its publishers, Messrs. Hutchinsons, decided that this essay must be suppressed on grounds of obscenity. It was accordingly cut out of each copy, though for technical reasons it was impossible to remove its title from the table of contents. To the other periodicals which have allowed me to reprint my contributions, the usual acknowledgments are due.
These essays have been left almost exactly as they were first written. A few very small changes have been made, mostly corrections of misquotations, and a few footnotes have been added. The latter are dated. The phrase "Great War", when it occurs in the earlier essays, refers to the war of 1914-18. It still seemed great in those days.
George Orwell, 1946