One novel on the list:
Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)Read about the other books on the list.
This rejection story's got everything: a crusader against censorship being censored, a Soviet spy, and famous poet T.S. Elliot. When Orwell first shopped the book around in 1944, everyone viewed it as excessively critical of the USSR, while the USSR was helping Britain defeat Nazi Germany. Four publishers rejected Animal Farm, including Orwell's regular publisher. Another publisher accepted the novel, but then rejected it at the request of Peter Smollett, an official working in the British Ministry of Information. Smollett was later revealed as a Soviet spy. Faber and Faber also rejected the book, with T.S. Eliot penning the letter himself. Refusing the book for being "generally Trotskyite," he added, "We have no conviction that this is the right point of view from which to criticise the political situation at the current time." In fact, the book would not be published until WWII was over.
After finding a publisher, Orwell wrote a preface to Animal Farm, "Freedom of the Press," about self-censorship during the war. In it he stated that, "Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness." The preface was not published. Source: Taylor, David John (2003). Orwell: The Life. H. Holt. p. 197.
Animal Farm is one of Chuck Klosterman's most important books; it appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pigs in literature.
Also see: ten classic sci-fi books that were originally considered failures.