George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, British writer, whose brilliant reporting and political conscience fashioned an impassioned picture of his life and times.
Orwell was born in Motihari, India on June 25, 1903. At the time of his birth, Orwell's father was serving as a civil servant in that part of the then vast English empire. Shortly after he was born (1904), Orwell's mother brought him and his sister to live in Henley-on-Thames, England. He entered St. Cyprian's preparatory school at Eastbourne in September, 1914, and then Eton College in May, 1918.
From 1922 to 1927, Orwell served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, after which he returned to England. When he resigned from his position in Burma on January 1, 1928, he resolved to speak out against the domination of any person over another. 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 his London and Paris experiences came his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), an account of the sordid conditions of the homeless poor. His essay "A Hanging" was published in The Adelphi in August, 1931, and, in the fall of that year, he began work on Burmese Days (1934), an indictment of imperialism, which is also largely autobiographical. In February, 1932, Down and Out in Paris and London was rejected for publication by Faber & Faber. During the spring of that year, Orwell taught at The Hawthorns private school in Middlesex, and in July, while he continued writing Burmese Days, Victor Gollancz accepted Down and Out in Paris and London, which was published on January 9, 1933, with the American version being published in June of that same year. In December, Orwell completed the final version of Burmese Days.
Early in 1934, Orwell began writing A Clergyman's Daughter, while at the same time, Gollancz rejected Burmese Days, which was finally published on October 25, 1934 by Harpers in New York. That fall, he also finished writing A Clergyman's Daughter, after which he began working part-time in Booklovers' Corner in Hampstead.
In early 1935, while at his book store job, he began writing Keep the Aspidistra Flying and continued revising A Clergyman's Daughter, which was published in Britian on March 11, 1935. On June 24 of that year, a revised edition of Burmese Days was published in Britian by Gollancz.
During 1936, Orwell moved around the north of England doing research for a book on working class conditions and on the conditions of unemployed coal miners in that area, which would eventually become The Road to Wigan Pier. He began writing Wigan Pier in May of that year. A month earlier, on April 20, Keep the Aspidistra Flying was published.
On June 9, 1936, Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy, and on August 17, A Clergyman's Daughter was published in New York. In the fall of that year, his essay Shooting an Elephant was published in New Writing, and in December Orwell went to Spain and joined the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The description of his experiences, in Homage to Catalonia, published in April, 1938, forms one of the most moving accounts of this war ever written. While in Spain, on March 8, 1937, The Road to Wigan Pier was published in Britian.
On June 12, 1939, Coming Up For Air was published, and The Lion and the Unicorn was published on February 19, 1941. In August of that year, Orwell joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as an assistant and later the producer of the radio show "Talks". In March, 1943, Orwell's mother died. He began writing Animal Farm in the late fall of that year, at which time he also left the BBC. In the Spring of 1944, Orwell and Eileen adopted their son Richard. On March 29, 1945, Eileen died.
After being initially rejected, Animal Farm was finally published on August 17, 1945.
During 1946, Orwell spent a good deal of time on the island of Jura in the Hebrides, Scottland, where he was writing Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in London and New York in June, 1949. In September of that year, Orwell entered the University College Hospital in London, where he married Sonia Brownell on October 13, 1949.
On January 21, 1950, having lived only forty-seven years, during which he wrote nine books and a large number of essays, Orwell died at University College Hospital. He was burried at All Saints churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire on January 26.
Among Orwell's other writings, all basically autobiographical, are 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.
"Orwell, George," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation; "George Orwell - A Bibliography", by Gillian Fenwick; The Orwell Reader.