George Orwell

George Orwell
* June 25, 1903 Motihari – India
+ January 21, 1950 London – GB
The British author George Orwell, pen name for Eric Blair , achieved prominence in the late 1940’s as the author of two brilliant satires. He wrote documentaries , essays, and criticism during the 1930’s and later established him as one of the most important and influential voices of the century.
“On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed down from the wall. It was one of these pictures which are so coontrived that the eyes follow you about when you move BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath ran.” – from Nineteen Eighty-Four

Eric Arthur Blair (later George Orwell) was born in 1903 in the Indian Village Motihari, which lies near to the border of Nepal. At that time India was a part of the British Empire, and Blair’s father Richard ,held a post as agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. Blair’s paternal grandfather too had been part of thhe British Raj ,and had served in the Indian Army. Eric’s mother ,Ida Mabel Blair ,the daughter of a French tradesman, was about eighteen years younger than her husband Richard Blair . Eric had a elder sister called Marjorie. The Blairs le

ed a relatively privileged and fairly pleasant existence, in helping to administer the Empire. Although the Blair family was not very wealthy – Orwell later described them ironically as “lower-upper-middle class” . They owned no property, had no extensive investments; they were like many middle-class English families of the time, totally dependent on the British Empire for their livelihood and prospects. In 1907 when Eric had about eight years ,the family returned to England and lived at Henley, though the father continued to work in India until he retired in 1912. With some difficulty ,Blair’s parents sent their son to a private preparatory school in Sussex at the age of eight. At the age of thirteen he won a scholarship to Wellington, and soon affter another to Eaton ,the famous public school.
His parents had forced him to work hat at a deary preparatory school, and now after winning the scholarship, he was not any more interested in further mental exertion unrelated to his private ambition. At the beginning of Why I Write, he explains that from the age of five or six he knew he would be- must be-a writer. But to become a writer one had to read literature. But English literature wa
as not a major subject at Eaton, where most boys came from backgrounds either irremediably unliterary or so literary that to teach them ‘English Literature’ would be absurd. One of Eric’s tutors later declared that his famous pupil had not done absolutely no work for five years. This was of course untrue: Eric has apprenticed himself to the masters of English prose who most appealed to him – including Swift, Sterne and Jack London.
However he has finished the final examinations at Eaton as 138th of 167. He neglected to win a university scholarship, and in 1922 Eric Blair joined the Indian Imperial Police. In doing so he was already breaking away from the path most of his school-fellows would take, for Eaton often led to either Oxford or Cambridge. Instead he was drawn to a life of travel and action. He trained in Burma, an served for five years in the police force there. In 1927,while home on leave, he resigned. There at least two reasons for this: firstly ,his life as a policeman was a distraction from the life he really wanted, which was to be a writer; and secondly, he had come to feel that, as a policeman in Burma, he
e was supporting a political system in which he could no longer believe. Even as early as this his ideas about writing and his political ideas were closely linked. It was not simply that he wished to break away from British Imperialism in India: he wished to “escape from . every form of man’s dominion over man”, as he said in Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and the social structure out of which he came dependent ,he saw it, on just that “dominion over others” – not just over the Burmese ,but over the English working class.
Back in London he settled down in a grotty bedroom in Portobello Road. There, at the age of twenty-four, he started to teach himself how to write. His neighbours were impressed by the determination . Week after week he remained in his unheated bedroom ,thawing his hands over a candle when they became too numb to write. In spring of 1928 he turned his back on his own inherited values, by taking a drastic step. For more than one year he went on living among the poor frist in London then in Paris. For him the oor were victims of injustice, playing the same part as the Burmese pl
layed in their country. One reason for going to live among the poor was to over come a repulsion which he saw as typical for his own class. At Paris he lived and worked in a working-class quarter. At the time, he tells us, Paris was full of artists and would-be artists. There Orwell led a life that was far from bohemian ,when he eventually got a job, he worked as a dishwasher. Once again his journey was downward into the life to which he felt he should expose himself, the life of poverty-stricken ,or of those ho barely scarped a living.
When ha came back to London, he agian lived for a couple of months among the tramps and poor people in London. In December 1929 Eric spent Christmas with his family. At his visit he announced that he’s going to write a book about his time in Paris. The original version of Down And Out entiteled A Scullion’s Diary was completed in October 1930 an came to only 35,000 words for Orwell has used only a part of his material. After two rejections from publishers Orwell wrote Burmese Days (published in 1934), a book based on his experiences in the colonial service. We owe the rescue of Down and Out to Mabel Firez: She was asked to destroy the script, but save the paper clips. Instead she took the manuscript and took it to Leonard Monroe, literary agent at the house Gollancz, and bullied him to read it. Soon it was accepted – on condition that all swearwords were deleted and certain names changed. Having completed this last revision Eric wrote to Victor Gollancz:’.I would prefer the book to be published pseudonymously. I have no reputation that is lost by doing this and if the book has any kind of success I can always use this pseudonym again.’ But Orwell’s reasons for taking the name Orwell are much more complicated than those writers usually have when adopting a pen-name. In effect it meant that Eric Blair would somehow have to shed his old identity and take on a new. This is exactly what he tried to do: he tried to change himself from Eric Blair, old Etonian an English colonial policemen ,into George Orwell, classless antiauthoritarian.
Down And Out In Paris And London, was not a novel; it was a kind of documentary account of life about which not many of those who would read the book and the time would know very much. And this was the point of it: he wished to bring the English middle class, of which he was a member, to an understanding of what life they led an enjoyed, was founded upon, the life under their very noses. Here we see two typical aspects of Orwell as a writer: his idea of himself as the exposer of painful truth, which people for various reasons do not wish to look at; and his idea of himself as a representative of the English moral conscience .(Winston Smith – 1984 – last representative of moral ).
His next book was A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935) and Keep The Aspidistra Flying (1936). Then he opened a village shop in Wallington, Hertfordshire, in 1936, where he did business in the mornings, and wrote in the afternoons. The same year he married Elieen O ‘Shaughnessy. In that year also , he received a commission from the Left Book Club to examine the conditions of the poor and unemployed. This resulted in The Road to Wigan Pier. He went on living among the poor about whom he was to write his book. Once again it was a journey away from the comparative comfort the middle class life. His account of mining communities in the north of England in this book is full of detail, and conveys to the reader what is like to go down a mine. When the Left Book Club read what he had written about the English class system and English socialism in the The Road to Wigan Pier they were not pleased , and when the book was published it contained a preface by Victor Gollancz taking issue with many of Orwell’s main points. The Left Book Club wasn’t pleased because in the second half of the book Orwell criticised the English socialism, because in his eyes it was mostly unrealistic, and another fact criticised by Orwell was that most of the socialists tended to be members of the Middle class. The kind of socialist Orwell makes fun of is the sort who spouts phrases like “proletarian solidarity” , and who puts of decent people, the people for whom Orwell wants to write.
Having completed The Road to Wigan Pier he went to Spain at the end of 1936, with the idea of writing newspaper articles on the Civil War which had broken out there. The conflict in Spain was between the communist, socialist Republic, and General Franco’s Fascist military rebellion. When Orwell arrived at Barcelona he was astonished at the atmosphere he found there: what had seemed impossible in England seemed a fact of daily life in Spain. Class distinction seemed to have vanished. There was a shortage of everything, but there was equality. Orwell joined in the struggle, by enlisting in the militia of POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación de Marxista), with which the British Labour Party had an association. For the first time in his life socialism seemed a reality, something for which is was worth fighting for. He was wounded in the throat. Three and a half month later when he returned to Barcelona ,he found it a changed city. No longer a place where the socialist word comrade was really felt to mean something, it was a city returning to “normal”. Even worse, he was to find that his group he was with, the POUM, was now accused of being a Fascist militia ,secretly helping Franco. Orwell had to sleep in the open to avoid showing his papers, and eventually managed to escape into France with his wife. His account of his time in Spain was published in Homage to Catalonia (1938). His experiences in Spain left two impressions on Orwell’s mind: firstly, they showed him that socialism in action was a human possibility, if only a temporary one. He never forgot the exhilaration of those first days in Barcelona , when a new society seemed possible, where “comradeship” instead of being just a socialist abuse of language, was reality. But secondly, the experience of the city returning to normal, he saw as a gloomy confirmation of the fact that there will always different classes, that there is something in the human nature that seeks violence, conflict, power over others. It will be clear that these two impressions, of hope on the one hand, and despair on the other are entirely contradiction. Nevertheless, despite the despair and confusion of his return to Barcelona (there were street fights between different groups of socialists). Orwell left Spain with a hopeful impression.
In 1938 Orwell became ill with tuberculosis, and spent the winter in Morocco. While there he wrote his next book, a novel entitled Coming up for Air, published in1939, the year the long threatened war between England an Germany broke out. Orwell wanted to fight, as he has done in Spain, against the fascist enemy, but he was declared unfit. In 1941 he has joined the British Broadcasting Corporation as talks producer in the Indian section of the eastern service. He served in the Home Guard, a wartime civilian body for local defence. In 1943 he left the BBC to become literary editor of the tribune, and began writing Animal Farm. In 1944 the Orwells adopted a son, but in 1945 his wife died during an operation. Towards the end of war Orwell went to Europe as a reporter. Late in 1945 he went to the island of Jura off the Scottish coast, and settled there in 1946. He wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four there. The islands climate was unsuitable for someone suffering from tuberculosis and Nineteen Eighty-Four reflects the bleakness of human suffering, the indignity of pain. Indeed he said that the book wouldn’t have been so gloomy had he not been so ill. Later that year he married Sonia Bronwell. He died in January 1950.

Sample Student Papers for Stage Model Paper

Sample “C” Essay
Shades of Grey
A kiss is to the lips, much as ignorance is to hatred and racism. George Orwell and James Baldwin both experience the ugly face of hatred and racism in a personal way. When a waitress says to James Baldwin in “Notes of a Native Son”, “We don’t serve Negros here” you have to ask yourself: “What do you serve? ignorance?” Baldwin discusses his being the object of hatred in an urban setting. He talks about living a life where his father was even more subjected to this hatred. As his father goes through the process of death, he tells us that “one hate is gone,. they will be forced to deal with pain.” George Orwell writes in “Shooting an Elephant” that despite being stationed on the opposite side of the globe, he encounters the same hatred from the local Burmese people. He brought none of the anger with him from England to Burma, yet he is jeered at by Buddhist priests standing on a street corner.
Our first encounter with racism and James Baldwin occurs when Baldwin is a young boy living in Harlem. His father had been born the son of a slave and young James was told never to trust white people by his father because “white people would do anything to keep a Negro down.” He never quite understood this teaching until he was older. Once a nice young, white schoolteacher offered to help young Baldwin. She offered to take him to see a play, a genuinely nice thing to do. Baldwin’s mother offered the highest praise for the teacher, calling her a “christian.”
Young George Orwell finds himself in a similar situation as the victim of hatred in Burma. Orwell is the subdivisional police office for the town. Although it is an important job, he is hated by many people. The Buddhist priests would jeer at him from street corners. White women ftom Europe would have betel juice spit on them if they were in a bazaar. One day, Orwell is playing soccer with the local people. He is tripped by a Burmese man but the referee never calls a foul. He never quite understood this hate of English people throughout this youthful stage. Because in his mind he stuck between “the hatred of the empire” and its recipient. Toward the end of this stage, the abuse “got badly on my nerves.”
One might think that Orwell being tripped by a Burmese player on the football field is bad,but Baldwin acts out his anger in a much more overt way. He decided that he will not accept this racism and decides to eat at a local restaurant. He walks in, finds the first available seat, and takes it. Baldwin waits to be served, and waits, and waits. But the first comments from the waitress are “We don’t serve Negros.” She even has to repeat it because he “pretended not to have understood her.” Baldwin’s anger is building. He promptly responds by tossing a pitcher of water into the face of the waitress. He has reached a point where he can “never be really carefree again.”
Orwell is faced with a similar situation when an elephant has gone into “must.” He must decide in this same action phase what he is going to do. The elephant has killed a local coolie and Orwell is being called to handle the situation. But the elephant is no longer a menace, the attack of “must” has passed, and he is “peacefully eating.” But Orwell notices the flock of people behind him watching. He must do something. “The people expected it of me and I had to do it.” Many shots rang out from his rifle, and Orwell could not stand it any longer. He wanted the elephant to die but the elephant wouldn’t.
In the resentment stage both men are beginning to act out their fears and frustrations outwardly. We find Baldwin has grown up and is living in New Jersey. He has been going to a local restaurant and serving himself. It is not until the fourth visit that he realizes he has never been served. “Nothing had ever been set before me. I had simply picked something up.” Black people were treated differently than whites, and we begin to see the racism that Baldwin talks about in “Notes of a Native Son”. His father warned him, “.none of them were to be trusted and most of them were not even nice.” When he realizes that he has been the object of racism, Baldwin “can never be carefree again.” At this point he felt “a physical sensation, a click at the nape of my neck as though some interior string connecting my head to my body had been cut.”
Orwell travels through the same resentment stage as Baldwin. This experience occurs for Orwell in Burma. Orwell enjoys soccer like many young people. He is tripped by a Burmese player, yet the referee decides not to call a foul on him. Why? It showed young Orwell clearly that the English imperialism is bad. But, he wonders why he is made the object of an “intolerable sense of guilt,” when, in fact, he agrees with the local Burmese people. He thinks of the British Raj as an autocrat “upon the the will of prostrate peoples.”
Both, Baldwin and Orwell finally reach a realization phase where each settles down to the reality of their respective situations. Baldwin comes to appreciate an immu-table law: “Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated.” Orwell eventually leaves the dying elephant. He “could not stand it any longer.” Afterwards there was debate among the old European men about whether Orwell been right to shoot the elephant. Legally he had done the right thing. But, he wonders if others realize that he shot the elephant merely to avoid looking like a fool in the eyes of the native people. James Baldwin, after his father’s death and witnessing a mob riot, realizes the following: “They preferred the invention because this invention expressed and corroborated their hates and fears so perfectly.”
Baldwin and Orwell are two individuals on opposite sides of the globe, but the reader can understand that hatred knows no bounds. Hatred and racism can be found on the streets of Orwell’s Burma and in the “American Diner” restaurant where Baldwin sits waiting for service.

George Orwell/ James Baldwin

About George Orwell:

picture outside 10 Portobello Rd, London, where Orwell lived with a Mrs. Craig, 1927-28
George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in 1903, in eastern India. Orwell was born to parents who were members of the Indian Civil Service. Orwell had a sister about five years old than he, and another five years younger, but he was never very close to them.
In 1911, at a very early age, Orwell was sent back to England to begin his education. Orwell graduated from Eton at age eighteen, and rather unexpectedly, was to spend the next five years (1922-27) in Burma as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police, an experience that later found expression in the novel Burmese Days (1934). His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), was a nonfictional moving and comical account of several years of self-imposed poverty he had experienced after leaving Burma. He published three other novels in the 1930s; Homage to Catalonia (1938) recounts his experiences fighting for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was wounded, and, when the Communists attempted to eliminate their allies on the far left, fought against them and was forced to flee for his life.
In 1945, Orwell’s wife died as the result of a minor operation. He attributed her death to lowered physical resistance due to the war; both she and Orwell had consistently given up a part of their wartime food rations to feed children, and consequently had impaired their health. In 1949 he married Sonia Brownell, who assisted him in taking care of his adopted son.
Orwell’s two best-known books reflect his lifelong distrust of autocratic government, whether of the left or right: Animal Farm (1945), a moder beast-fable attacking Stalinism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a dystopian novel setting forth his fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. The pair of novels brought him his first fame and almost his only remuneration as a writer.
On January 21, 1950, as he was about to leave for a sanitarium in Switzerland, he had a tubercular hemmorhage and died in London, England.

About James Baldwin:
(Information from the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, 1997)

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was born in Harlem, which he described as “a southern community displaced in the streets of New York”. He was the illegitimate son of Emma Berdis Jones; Jones later married David Baldwin when James was three. James’ stepfather was an embittered, authoritarian lay preacher who preached the Old Testament doctrine of sinners in the hands of an angry God. To escape David Baldwin’s hatred and harshness towards him, James escaped through reading. By age thirteen, James Baldwin claimed, he had read all the books in the two Harlem libraries; he thus moved over to the New York Public Library to continue his studies, and his escape.
Baldwin actually began his literary career at age twelve by publishing a short story in the church newspaper about the Spanish Civil War. He published his first book review at age twenty-two. Baldwin’s career was officially launched after publishing The Harlem Ghetto, a controversial essay on black Anti-Semitism. Though he left the Church and renounced Christianity, its (and his stepfather’s) influences ultimately shaped his writing. His rhetoric, sermonic, moralistic, rhythmical, and spirtual, ultimately earned him the title of a “latter-day Jeremiah”. Baldwin’s experiences with racism and with homophobia prompted him to move to Paris in 1948. However, after seeing a photograph of Dorothy Counts being spat upon as she attempted to desegregate a North Carolina school, he returned to the United States in 1957 and joined the Civil Rights Movement.
Baldwin was a national figure in the Movement; his social commentaries were widely published. (These writings were published in Nobody Knows My Name and Fire Next Time) After his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, Baldwin returned to Europe and lived there until his death on November 30 1987. Several weeks before his death, in an interview Baldwin stated, ” No true account really of black life can be held, or contained, by the American vocabulary. As it is, the only way that you can deal with it is by doing great violence to the assumptions on which the vocabulary is based. What I tried to do, or to interpret and make clear, was that no society can smash the social contract and be exempt for the consequences, and the consequences are chaos for everybody in the society”.

Reading Assignment:
Read Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant, and Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son

Writing Assignment: CREDIT ASSIGNMENT #2
You’ve read two outstanding personal experience essays by James Baldwin and George Orwell. Both writers probe their lives to gain insight into their decisions, thoughts, motivations, and emotions.
After reading both essays, you may have heard echoes of Orwell in Baldwin and Baldwin in Orwell. We want to discuss the commonalities in their experiences. In preparation, you must hand in a one page, typed, double-spaced paper on the following: Describe one important similarity between the experience Orwell underwent during his time in Burma and the experience Baldwin underwent as a resident of Harlem, New York/Trenton New Jersey. To support your ideas, refer to relevant passages in their essays. Provide a focused topic sentence which defines the similarity you have found. Then present evidence from the texts to explain why that similarity exists.
View an example of a well written Credit Assignment #2

Discussion: Creating Stage Models:
A stage model is an attempt to account for changes in human development through close observation and detailed description/analysis. Stage models are created within every academic discipline, and represent an essential tool of developing critical theories and substantiating them through evidence. Over the weekend, you’ll be drafting a stage model which will help you uncover the similarities in the experiences of George Orwell and James Baldwin
View a stage model for culture shock by Brink and Saunders
View a stage model for intellectual development by Bloom
View a stage model for moral development by Kohlberg
View Mr. Sheftman’s stage model for the Orwell/Baldwin assignment

Writing Assignment: ESSAY #2
We have read two personal experience essays from George Orwell and James Baldwin, and discussed some of the similarities the two men shared. Your task for essay #2 is to describe and discuss a psychological stage model which helps your readers understand the intellectual and emotional/spiritual changes these writers underwent. You want your stage model to have explanatory power, to reveal the journey of self-discovery they travelled. In a three to four page, double spaced, typewritten essay, present your stage model, applying it to the readings we’ve discussed. Explain each stage’s characteristics and use evidence from the reading material to illustrate how/why Orwell and Baldwin move from one stage to another.
Some points to consider: To write a successful essay, you should keep several key assumptions in mind. We accept as fact that Orwell and Baldwin went through changes as a result of their experience. Your job is to figure out how they are different from the beginning of their story (narrative) to the end, and why those changes in thought/emotion came about. Consider yourselves to be researchers of their psyche and environment. Turn a critical eye to what they reveal about key events in their lives and how they reacted. Notice how their perspectives are shaped by the ways they interpret the pressures upon them both within themselves (their expectations, desires, goals, etc.) and from outside (their society, the expectations of others).
Assume as well that your readers are unfamiliar with Baldwin and Orwell’s experiences. Your stage model acts as the tool for helping educate your readers about what these writers came to understand about their lives and how they gained that understanding.

George Orwell (1903-1950)

On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face–for ever.”
–from Nineteen Eighty-Four

The British author George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, b. Motihari, India, June 25, 1903, d. London, Jan. 21, 1950, achieved prominence in the late 1940s as the author of two brilliant satires attacking totalitarianism. Familiarity with the novels, documentaries, essays, and criticism he wrote during the 1930s and later has since established him as one of the most important and influential voices of the century.
Orwell’s parents were members of the Indian Civil Service, and, after an education at Eton College in England, Orwell joined (1922) the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that later found expression in the novel Burmese Days (1934). His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), was a nonfictional account–moving and comic at the same time–of several years of self-imposed poverty he had experienced after leaving Burma. He published three other novels in the 1930s: A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), and Coming Up for Air (1939). His major works of the period were two documentaries: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a detailed, sympathetic, and yet objective study of the lives of nearly impoverished miners in the Lancashire town of Wigan; and Homage to Catalonia (1938), which recounts his experiences fighting for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was wounded, and, when the Communists attempted to eliminate their allies on the far left, fought against them and was forced to flee for his life.
Orwell’s two best-known books reflect his lifelong distrust of autocratic government, whether of the left or right: Animal Farm (1945), a modern beast-fable attacking Stalinism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a dystopian novel setting forth his fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. The pair of novels brought him his first fame and almost his only remuneration as a writer. His wartime work for the BBC (published in the collections George Orwell: The Lost Writings, and The War Commentaries) gave him a solid taste of bureaucratic hypocrisy and may have provided the inspiration for his invention of “newspeak,” the truth-denying language of Big Brother’s rule in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell’s reputation rests not only on his political shrewdness and his sharp satires but also on his marvelously clear style and on his superb essays, which rank with the best ever written. “Politics and the English Language” (1950), which links authoritarianism with linguistic decay, has been widely influential. The four-volume Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell was published in 1968.
Richard A. Johnson
Bibliography: Atkins, John, George Orwell (1955); Buitenhuis, P., and Nadel, I. B., George Orwell: A Reassessment (1988); Crick, B., George Orwell: A Life (1980); Kalechofsky, Roberta, George Orwell (1973); Kubal, David L., Outside the Whale: George Orwell’s Art and Politics (1972); Lee, Robert A., Orwell’s Fiction (1969); Meyers, Jeffrey, A Reader’s Guide to George Orwell (1977) and, as ed., George Orwell (1975); Oxley, B. T., George Orwell (1969); Patai, D., The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology (1984); Reilly, P., George Orwell: The Age’s Adversary (1986); Stansky, P., and Abrahams, W., The Unknown Orwell (1972) and The Transformation (1979); Steinhoff, William, George Orwell and the Origins of 1984 (1975); Williams, Raymond, ed., George Orwell: A Collection of Critical Essays (1974); Woodcock, George, The Crystal Spirit (1966); Zwerdling, Alex, Orwell and the Left (1974).
Text Copyright © 1993 Grolier Incorporated

George Orwell (1903-1950)
Orwell was born Eric Hugh Blair in 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, an area in eastern India only about three hundred miles from Burma, where Orwell was to serve twenty years later as a British civil servant. Orwell had a sister about five years old than he, and another five years younger, but he was never very close to them.
In 1911, at a very early age, Orwell was sent back to England to begin his education.
Orwell graduated from Eton at age eighteen, and rather unexpectedly, was to spend the next five years (1922-27) in Burma as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police.
In this year, 1945, Orwell’s wife died as the result of a minor operation. He attributed her death to lowered physical resistance due to the war; both she and Orwell had consistently given up a part of their wartime food rations to feed children, and consequently had impaired their health.
1949 he married Sonia Brownell, who assisted him in taking care of his adopted son.
On January 21, 1950, as he was about to leave for a sanitarium in Switzerland, he had a tubercular hemmorhage and died.

George Orwell
(1903-1950)

On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face–for ever.”
–from Nineteen Eighty-Four

The British author George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, b. Motihari, India, June 25, 1903, d. London, Jan. 21, 1950, achieved prominence in the late 1940s as the author of two brilliant satires attacking totalitarianism. Familiarity with the novels, documentaries, essays, and criticism he wrote during the 1930s and later has since established him as one of the most important and influential voices of the century.
Orwell’s parents were members of the Indian Civil Service, and, after an education at Eton College in England, Orwell joined (1922) the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that later found expression in the novel Burmese Days (1934). His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), was a nonfictional account–moving and comic at the same time–of several years of self-imposed poverty he had experienced after leaving Burma. He published three other novels in the 1930s: A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), and Coming Up for Air (1939). His major works of the period were two documentaries: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a detailed, sympathetic, and yet objective study of the lives of nearly impoverished miners in the Lancashire town of Wigan; and Homage to Catalonia (1938), which recounts his experiences fighting for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was wounded, and, when the Communists attempted to eliminate their allies on the far left, fought against them and was forced to flee for his life.
Orwell’s two best-known books reflect his lifelong distrust of autocratic government, whether of the left or right: Animal Farm (1945), a modern beast-fable attacking Stalinism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a dystopian novel setting forth his fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. The pair of novels brought him his first fame and almost his only remuneration as a writer. His wartime work for the BBC (published in the collections George Orwell: The Lost Writings, and The War Commentaries) gave him a solid taste of bureaucratic hypocrisy and may have provided the inspiration for his invention of “newspeak,” the truth-denying language of Big Brother’s rule in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell’s reputation rests not only on his political shrewdness and his sharp satires but also on his marvelously clear style and on his superb essays, which rank with the best ever written. “Politics and the English Language” (1950), which links authoritarianism with linguistic decay, has been widely influential. The four-volume Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell was published in 1968.
Richard A. Johnson
Bibliography: Atkins, John, George Orwell (1955); Buitenhuis, P., and Nadel, I. B., George Orwell: A Reassessment (1988); Crick, B., George Orwell: A Life (1980); Kalechofsky, Roberta, George Orwell (1973); Kubal, David L., Outside the Whale: George Orwell’s Art and Politics (1972); Lee, Robert A., Orwell’s Fiction (1969); Meyers, Jeffrey, A Reader’s Guide to George Orwell (1977) and, as ed., George Orwell (1975); Oxley, B. T., George Orwell (1969); Patai, D., The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology (1984); Reilly, P., George Orwell: The Age’s Adversary (1986); Stansky, P., and Abrahams, W., The Unknown Orwell (1972) and The Transformation (1979); Steinhoff, William, George Orwell and the Origins of 1984 (1975); Williams, Raymond, ed., George Orwell: A Collection of Critical Essays (1974); Woodcock, George, The Crystal Spirit (1966); Zwerdling, Alex, Orwell and the Left (1974).
Text Copyright © 1993 Grolier Incorporated

George Orwell
George Orwell (1903-1949) is the author who shaped my politics and social attitudes away from those typical of my social class in Brazil, the “shock absorbers of the burgeoisie” as he describes it. That happened ten to fifteen years ago. I had opinions before that, of course, but then I was also a total prat.
My favourite works by Orwell are Coming up for Air (fiction) and The Road to Wigan Pier (non-fiction). Here’s a quote from The Road to Wigan Pier:
Large sections of the middle class are being gradually proletarianized; but the important point is that they do not, at any rate not in the first generation, adopt a proletarian outlook. Here I am, for instance, with a burgeois upbringing and a working-class income. Which class do I belong to? Economically I belong to the working class, but it is almost impossible for me to think of myself as anything but a member of the burgeoisie. And supposing I had to take sides, whom should I side with, the upper class which is trying to squeeze me out of existence, or the working class whose manners are not my manners? It is probable that I, personally, in any important issue, would side with the working class. But what about the tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are in approximately the same position? And what about that far larger class, running into millions this time – the office-workers and black-coated employees of all kinds – whose traditions are less definite middle class but who would certainly not thank you if you called them proletarians? All of these people have the same interests and the same enemies as the working class. All are being robbed and bullied by the same system. Yet how many of them realize it? When the pinch came nearly all of them would side with their oppressors and against those who ought to be their allies. It is quite easy to imagine a working class crushed down to the worst depths of poverty and still remaining bitterly anti-working-class in sentiment; this being, of course, a ready-made Fascist party.

George Orwell
Background
GEORGE ORWELL WAS THE PEN NAME of the English author, Eric Arthur Blair. Orwell was educated in England at Eton College. After service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927, he returned to Europe to become a writer. He lived for several years in poverty. His earliest experiences resulted in the book,Down and Out in Paris and London.
By 1936, Orwell had joined the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was critical of Communism but basically considered himself a Socialist. He was wounded in the fighting. Late in the war, Orwell fought the Communists and eventually had to flee Spain for his life. Orwell documented many of his experiences during the Spanish Civil War in hisHomage to Catalonia.
Orwell’s various experiences with totalitarian political regimes had a direct impact on his prose. Orwell’s best-known books reflect his opposition to totalitarianism:Animal FarmandNineteen Eighty-Four.In an article entitled, “Why I Write” Orwell would explain:
“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism.Animal Farmwas the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.”
During the Second World War, Orwell wrote a weekly radio political commentary, designed to counter German and Japanese propaganda in India. His wartime work for the BBC gave him a solid taste of bureaucratic hypocrisy. Many believe that this experience provided the inspiration for his invention of “newspeak,” the truth-denying language of Big Brother’s rule in his novelNineteen Eighty-Four.

Throughout his lifetime, the great English author continually questioned all “official” or “accepted” versions of history. At the conclusion of the war in Europe, Orwell expressed doubt about the Allied account of events and posed the following question in his bookNotes on Nationalism, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Is it true about the gas ovens in Poland?”
Of all of Orwell’s writings,1984has had the most profound influence on historical revisionism. Revisionist pioneer, Harry Elmer Barnes wrote an important essay, “How ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ Trends Threaten American Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity,” which documented the prophetic nature of Orwell’s classic. Barnes would proclaim,
“Orwell’s book is the keenest and most penetrating work produced in this generation on the current trends in national policy and world affairs. To discuss world trends today without reference to the Orwell frame of reference is not unlike writing on biology without reference to Darwin, Mendel, and De Vries.”
Orwell died in London at the early age of forty-seven of a neglected lung ailment. He left behind a substantial body of work and a reputation for greatness.
Biographical Information
Date of Birth- June 25,1903
Place of Birth- Motihari, India
Died – January 21, 1950
Partial Bibliography
• Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
• Burmese Days (1934)
• A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935)
• Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
• The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)
• Homage to Catalonia (1938)
• Coming up for Air (1939)
• Inside the Whale, and Other Essays (1940)
• Animal Farm (1945)
• Nineteen Eighty-four (1949)
• Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (1950)
• Such, Such Were the Joys (1953)

Orwell, George, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), British writer, whose brilliant reporting and political conscience fashioned an impassioned picture of his life and times.
Orwell was born in Motihari, India, and was educated in England at Eton College. He served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (now known as Myanmar) from 1922 to 1927, when he returned to England. In poor health, and striving to become a writer, he lived for several years in poverty, first in Paris and then in London. Out of this experience came his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), an account of the sordid conditions of the homeless poor. Burmese Days (1934), an indictment of imperialism, is also largely autobiographical. In 1936 Orwell joined the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The description of his experiences, in Homage to Catalonia (1938), forms one of the most moving accounts of this war ever written. Also belonging to this period is The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a harrowing report on the conditions of unemployed coal miners in the north of England.
When Orwell resigned from his position in Burma, he resolved to speak out against the domination of any person over another. His condemnation of totalitarian society is expressed in the brilliantly witty allegorical fable Animal Farm (1945) and in the satirical novel Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). The latter presents a terrifying picture of life under the constant surveillance of “Big Brother.”
Among Orwell’s other writings, all basically autobiographical, are the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936); Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (1950), considered models of expository prose; and Such, Such Were the Joys (1953), recalling the hardships of his school days. The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell was published in four volumes in 1968.

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