In order to take a break from the pressure to craft another masterpiece following the highly successful book “Animal Farm,” George Orwell took a leisurely boat ride along the Gulf of Corryvreckan, which incidentally houses the third-largest whirlpool on Earth (via Mental Floss). Ensnared in the whirlpool, his boat capsized, and Orwell almost didn’t survive to tell the tale. He nearly drowned on that fateful day as freezing waters propelled his boat away. When he returned from the near-death experience, he worked feverishly to complete his novel.
George Orwell was already dying when he fleshed out rewrite after rewrite of “1984,” staining the paper in multiple different inks (via The Guardian). His desperation to meet deadlines was only exacerbated by an illness that left him spitting blood and spewing consciousness. Toward the end of his composition, George Orwell was bedridden, his lungs inflamed, and his head whirling with doubt.
In a bittersweet twist of irony, Orwell succumbed to tuberculosis and passed away just months after narrowly escaping death by drowning. He lived just long enough to complete his acclaimed work of fiction, but certainly not long enough to see the mark he’d leave on modern culture. While it is possible that the boating incident worsened the illness Orwell already suffered from, evidence suggests that he contracted tuberculosis many years prior to the boating incident, during the Spanish Civil War (via The Guardian).