Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher, and bookshop assistant, as well as contributing reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933.
In 1936, he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans where he was seriously wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war there. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 but he never fully recovered. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune, he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary. He also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm, was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), that brought him world-wide fame.
George Orwell died in London in January 1950. A few days before his death, Desmond MacCarthy sent him a message of greeting in which he wrote: "You have made an indelible mark on English literature . . . you are among the few memorable writers of your generation."
Did you find this review helpful?