George Orwell / Eric Arthur Blair
Who was he: George Orwell was an English author and journalist who had a profound awareness of social injustices, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a belief in democratic socialism and a love of clarity in language. Orwell wrote fiction, poetry, polemical journalism and literary criticism. His stint as an Indian Police Officer resulted in the book Burmese Days, where he showcased his hate for imperialism.
Until 1940, Orwell supported himself by writing book reviews for the New English Weekly. In 1943, Orwell became literary editor of the Tribune, a left wing weekly. In 1944, he finished his anti-Stalinist allegory, Animal Farm, which finally gave him financial stability. In 1945, Orwell worked as The Observer's war correspondent and later, was a regular contributor to the Manchester Evening News. Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in 1949.
Background: Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, was born June 25, 1903 in Motihari, Bihar, British India. When he was one year old, Orwell's mother took him to live in England. In 1904, Orwell settled with his mother and sisters at Henley-on-Thames. He did not see his father again until 1912.
When he was five, Orwell was sent to a convent school in Henley-on-Thames as a dayboy. He went to school at St. Cyprian's, where he earned scholarships to Wellington College and Eton. Orwell had attended one term at Wellington College in 1917 when a position as a King's Scholar opened up for him at Eton. He took it and remained there until 1921.
Orwell did poorly in his studies, so it was assumed he would never be able to acquire another scholarship. It was decided that he would join the Indian Police Service. Orwell enrolled at a "crammer" in Craighurst, where he re-introduced himself to the classics, English and history. He passed the police exam seventh out of 27. From 1922 to 1927, Orwell policed in India, rising to the position of Assistant District Superintendent. He fell ill in 1927 and received leave for England. Orwell resigned from the police that year with the intent to become a writer.
Orwell became a teacher in 1932, at the Hawthorne High School for Boys in Hayes, West London. While there, he became friends with the local curate, who persuaded Moore of Victor Gollancz Ltd. – a radical and socialist works outlet – to publish Orwell's A Scullion's Diary for a £40 advance. He adopted his pen name when publishing Down and Out in Paris and London, in an attempt not to embarrass his family by tramping.
In 1937, George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War, having sympathies with the Independent Labor Party. He returned home later that year after being shot in the neck and nearly arrested by the communist nationalists. He died in 1950, age 46, of tuberculosis after completing two masterpieces, 1984 and Animal Farm.