George Orwell Biography & Facts
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is characterised by lucid prose, social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and support of democratic socialism.Orwell produced literary criticism and poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working-class life in the industrial north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), are as critically respected as his essays on politics and literature, language and culture.
Blair was born in India, and raised and educated in England. After school he became an Imperial policeman in Burma, before returning to Suffolk, England, where he began his writing career as George Orwell—a name inspired by a favourite location, the River Orwell. He lived from occasional pieces of journalism, and also worked as a teacher or bookseller whilst living in London. From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, his success as a writer grew and his first books were published. He was wounded fighting in the Spanish Civil War, leading to his first period of ill health on return to England. During the Second World War he worked as a journalist and for the BBC. The publication of Animal Farm led to fame during his life-time. During the final years of his life he worked on 1984, and moved between Jura in Scotland and London.
Orwell's work remains influential in popular culture and in political culture, and the adjective "Orwellian"—describing totalitarian and authoritarian social practices—is part of the English language, like many of his neologisms, such as "Big Brother", "Thought Police", "Room 101", "Newspeak", "memory hole", "doublethink", and "thoughtcrime". In 2008, The Times ranked George Orwell second among "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, British India into what he described as a "lower-upper-middle class" family. His great-grandfather, Charles Blair, was a wealthy country gentleman and absentee owner of Jamaican plantations from Dorset who married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the 8th Earl of Westmorland. His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was an Anglican clergyman, and Orwell's father was Richard Walmesley Blair, who worked as a Sub-Deputy Opium Agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service, overseeing the production and storage of opium for sale to China. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Moulmein, Burma, where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older; and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and Marjorie to England. In 2014 restoration work began on Orwell's birthplace and ancestral house in Motihari.
In 1904, Ida Blair settled with her children at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters and, apart from a brief visit in mid-1907, he did not see his father until 1912. Aged five, Eric was sent as a day-boy to a convent school in Henley-on-Thames, which Marjorie also attended. It was a Roman Catholic convent run by French Ursuline nuns. His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family could not afford the fees. Through the social connections of Ida Blair's brother Charles Limouzin, Blair gained a scholarship to St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, East Sussex. Arriving in September 1911, he boarded at the school for the next five years, returning home only for school holidays. Although he knew nothing of the reduced fees, he "soon recognised that he was from a poorer home". Blair hated the school and many years later wrote an essay "Such, Such Were the Joys", published posthumously, based on his time there. At St Cyprian's, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who became a writer and who, as the editor of Horizon, published several of Orwell's essays.Before the First World War, the family moved to Shiplake, Oxfordshire, where Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially their daughter Jacintha. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field. Asked why, he said, "You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up." Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry, and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He said that he might write a book in the style of H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia. During this period, he also enjoyed shooting, fishing and birdwatching with Jacintha's brother and sister.
While at St Cyprian's, Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard. He came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school's external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton. But inclusion on the Eton scholarship roll did not guarantee a place, and none was immediately available for Blair. He chose to stay at St Cyprian's until December 1916, in case a place at Eton became available.In January, Blair took up the place at Wellington, where he spent the Spring term. In May 1917 a place became available as a King's Scholar at Eton. At this time the family lived at Mall Chambers, Notting Hill Gate. Blair remained at Eton until December 1921, when he left midway between his 18th and 19th birthday. Wellington was "beastly", Blair told Jacintha, but he said he was "interested and happy" at Eton. His principal tutor was A. S. F. Gow, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who also gave him advice later in his career. Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley. Steven Runciman, who was at Eton with Blair, noted that he and his contemporaries appreciated Huxley's linguistic flair. Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years, they did not associate with each other.Blair's academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his studies, but during his time at Eton he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a college magazine, The Election Times, joined in the production of other publications—College Days and Bubble and Squeak—and participated in the Eton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to a university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to win one. Runciman noted that he had a romantic idea about the East, and the family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, the precursor of the Indian Police Service. For this he had to pass an entrance examination. In December 1921 he left Eton and travelled to join his retired father, mother, and younger sister Avril, who that month.... Discover the George Orwell popular books. Find the top 100 most popular George Orwell books.