The book was written during the height of World War Two, while London was being pulverized by a steady stream of flying V1 bombs known as ‘doodle bugs'. In fact, the book itself very nearly fell victim to the deadly doodles - when, in June 1944, Orwell’s flat was, er, flattened, and the author was reduced to scrambling around in the debris in a bid to rescue his tattered manuscript.
By this stage, Orwell's regular publisher, Victor Gollancz, had refused to take the book, fearful that its anti-Soviet themes would be unpopular at a time when the Russian alliance was proving crucial to the success of the British war effort. TS Eliot, then editor at Faber & Faber, had similar objections. An acceptance by Jonathan Cape was swiftly reneged upon after the publisher paid a visit to Peter Smollett, a shady official at the Ministry of Information. (Interestingly, Smollett was later discovered to be a Soviet agent.)
A full transcript of TS Eliot's rejection letter can be viewed here: