Eric Blair’s pseudonym was ‘George Orwell’. He was born in
India in 1903, son of an Indian Civil Servant. Traditionally, he was brought to England to be educated, and eventually ended up at Eton on a scholarship in 1917.
He graduated in 1921 and decided not to go to University, but
took up a post with the Civil Service in Burma, and he became a Sergeant in the Indian Imperial Police.
He served in Burma until 1927 and reports are that he did not rest easy with the authority he had to wield over the Burmese people, and he resigned his post in 1927.
He spent a year among the homeless, and these experiences formed
the basis of his first book called ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, published in 1933.
He worked as a teacher and after he married, ran a village pub
and general store with his wife. At this time he was only making a small income from his written work and it was not until after the war that he would earn sufficient as an author.
He became involved in the Spanish Civil War and ended up
enlisting on the Republican side. This decision was to result in him and his wife being forced to leave Spain. He wrote the book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ in 1938 based on his experiences in Spain.
He suffered from tuberculosis, which prevented him serving in
the armed forces during the war, but he did accept a position in the Home Guard.
He was also an active socialist and produced many works during
the war for various newspapers.
In 1945, the first of the two books for which he is generally
known was published, ‘Animal Farm’. This book was particularly successful in the United States, and Orwell at last enjoyed a good income from this.
Orwell was one of the few people who can be regarded as
He was a passionate socialist and regarded as extremely honest. It is surprising, therefore, that he was able to show this, having been educated at Eton, but he was more at home in a public house than in the halls of Eton.
He had the courage to pursue his convictions, thus his
involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
He strongly opposed the major forces in the world during his time such as Stalinism and Fascism, and through the power of his pen, did all he could to decry these orthodoxies in his works ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Homage to Catalonia’, which should be read in tandem.
He had moved to the Scottish Hebrides so that he could
concentrate more on his writing, in particular adding the finishing touches to ’ which was published in 1949.
Orwell’s projection of a society in the near future was greatly
acclaimed, and was standard reading material for English students in Great Britain.
Orwell died prematurely in London in early 1950 from exhaustion
and poor health.