George Orwell, individual and writer
George Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair. Under his pen name he became well known for his essays and mostly for two of his novels “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. He was a novelist, a critic and a political and cultural commentator, a fact which is reflected in his works.
Blair was born in
At the age of five Blair was admitted to a
small Anglican parish school in
” ‘Report yourself to the headmaster after breakfast!’
I do not know how many times I heard that phrase during my early years at Crossgates. It was only very rarely that it did not mean a beating. The words always had a portentous sound in my ears, like muffled drums or the words of the death sentence.” In the same essay, he describes his feeling while there as:” a sense of desolate loneliness and helplessness, of being locked up not only in a hostile world but in a world of good and evil where the rules were such that it was actually not possible for me to keep them.”
time he spent at this school helped his get a scholarship to both
1928 he went to
This period of
his life is described in his first novel “Down and Out in
18 months, nearly starved he made his way back to
adopted the pen name George Orwell before the publishing of “Down and Out in
of “Burmese Days” made it possible for him to leave
“A Clergyman's Daughter” (1935) drown from his experience as a schoolteacher at a private school in Hayes, Middlesex. He had to leave this position because of health problems. After that he worked part-time as an assistant in a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead, from late 1934 to early 1936, an experience which was later partially recounted in the novel “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” (1936).
Road to Wigan Pier” (1937) was written by Orwell as a commission for the Left
Book Club at the request of Victor Gollancz. It was supposed to be an account
of poverty among the working class in the depressed areas of northern
inserted a pacifying preface to the book during the time Orwell spent in
Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy shortly after he completed his research for the book, on the 9th of June 1936.
December 1936 Orwell went to fight in the Spanish Civil War, along side the
Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (POUM), a group of Communist
worker-democrats, against Francisco Franco's Nationalist uprising. There he
became part of the Independent Labour Party contingent, a group of some 25
Britons who joined the militia of the POUM. Orwell’s rank in the militia was
corporal and before being honorably discharged he participated in the street
fighting between government and anarchist troops in
POUM along with the radical wing of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (the dominant
force on the left in
Participating in the Spanish war and witnessing the actions of the Comintern had two major consequences: one was that it turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist, a fact which will later one show in his work, specifically “Animal Farm”, but it also served as the material from which the action of “Homage to Catalonia” are drawn.
was injured during his military service, a shot through the neck nearly killing
him. In the novel “Homage to
After his return
March 1938 Orwell is hospitalized for six months in a tuberculosis sanatorium
1940 he published his first collection of essays “Inside the Whale”. A year
later he took a job at the BBC Eastern Service where he tried to get support
From 1943 to 1946 he also contributed to several other publications such as: “the Observer”, “The Manchester Evening News”, “The Lion and the Unicorn” and he wrote the foreword to Joyce Cary’s “The Case for African Freedom”.
Orwell’s anti-Stalinist allegory “Animal Farm” was finished in 1944 and was published a year later. Even if it was viewed with great hesitation by publishers it made Orwell world famous. T.S. Eliot rejected the book saying:” We have no conviction… that this is the right point of view from which to criticize the political situation”. Another publisher, Gollancz rejected the manuscript also telling Orwell that: “I could not possibly publish… a general attack of this nature”. Bernard Crick, as Orwell’s biographer points out that the novel “was widely reviewed… and nearly all praised the style” . “Animal Farm” is a book where he describes the defeat of a revolution and the crushing of hope (Boxer’s sacrifice, the pigs starting to act like the masters they had overthrown). The last precept that the pigs govern by “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” can be seen as a devastating comment on left-wing totalitarianism.
In 1945, on the 29th of March Orwell’s wife died during a minor operation after they had recently adopted a baby boy, Richard Horatio Blair, who had been born in May 1944. The cause of her death might be attributed to a low physical resistance determined by the fact that both she and Orwell would consistently give up a part of their wartime food rations to feed children.
the Christmas Eve of 1947 he had to enter
In 1947 he published the essays “The English People”, “Politics and the English Language” and in 1949 he published his last novel- “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. This novel also has an interesting story. It is widely considered that the name of the book was inspired by the year when it was completed 1948, with the last two digits transposed. Orwell’s original title for the book was “The Last Man in Europe” but from Bernard Crick’s “Introduction” to the Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984 edition of “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, we find out that the publisher, Fredric Warburg, was the one who suggested the change of title.
the writing of this book Orwell lived in a remote farmhouse on the
In 1949 Orwell made up a list of 37 writers and artists who had pro-communist leanings at the request of friend Celia Kirwan, who worked for the Information Research Department, a Foreign Office unit, set up by the Labour government to publish pro-democratic and anti-communist propaganda. The list was made up mostly of journalists, but it also included the actors Michael Redgrave and Charlie Chaplin.
January 1949 Orwell becomes a patient of the sanatorium in Cranham, Gloucestershire.
In October 1949, just a few months before his death, Orwell married Sonia
Brownell. He died on the 21st of January 1950, at the age of 46 from
Richard Horatio Blair, Orwell’s adopted son, was raised after his father’s death by an aunt. Although he has given a few interviews about the memories he has of his father he maintains a low public profile.
1950, the year of Orwell’s death, the book of essays “Shooting an Elephant” was
published, and in 1953, was posthumously published the book “
A vast book, of four volumes containing over 200 pieces of uncollected journalism; four diaries and notebooks was edited by Sonia Orwell and I. Angus in 1968 under the title “The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell”.
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