George Orwell Biography

George Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic; he is best known for his novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline

Quick Facts

Nick Name: George Orwell

Birthday: June 25, 1903

Nationality: British

Famous: Quotes By George Orwell Died Young

Died At Age: 46

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Eric Arthur Blair

Born in: Motihari

Famous as: Writer

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Spouse/Ex-: Eileen Blair, Sonia Orwell

father: Richard Walmsley Blair

mother: Ida Mabel Limouzin

siblings: Avril Blair, Marjorie Blair

children: Richard Horatio Orwell

Died on: January 21, 1950

place of death: London

Personality: INFP

Cause of Death: Tuberculosis

More Facts

education: 1917 - St Cyprian's School, 1921-12 - Eton College, 1917-05 - Wellington College, Berkshire

awards: 2011; 1984 - Prometheus Hall of Fame Award - Animal Farm; 1984
1996 - Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella - Animal Farm

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George Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic; he is best known for his novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Both these novel are literary masterpieces and are considered as the sharpest satirical fiction of 20th century. Born in India as the son of a British civil servant, George Orwell’s original name was Eric Arthur Blair. Soon after his birth, his mother shifted to India. Orwell did his schooling from Eton and because his family did not have the financial means to support his university education, he joined the India Imperial Police Force. He served in Burma for five years and then resigned and came back to England in order to pursue his passion of writing. He adopted the pseudonym George Orwell when he took to writing. He did so because he did not want to embarrass his family. Initially he struggled to make ends meet with his writing career. His writing career truly came to the party with his 1945 novel ‘Animal Farm’. It was an anti-Soviet satire with two pigs as its main protagonists. The pigs ostensibly represented Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky. His next masterpiece, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' explored how a totalitarian regime persecutes individualism. Both these novels brought cult status to Orwell. He is still revered today and features among the list of the greatest writers of all times

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Childhood & Early Life
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  • In 1922, Orwell joined the India Imperial Police Force and was posted to Burma. He served there for five years and thereafter resigned and returned to England in order to pursue his passion of writing.
  • His early career as writer involved lot of hardships and he struggled to make ends meet. His did all sorts of jobs—including that of a dishwasher—in order to eke out a living.
  • Orwell’s first major work was ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ (1933). It detailed his struggles in the two cities when he trying to make his mark as a writer.
  • In 1934, he came out with his second novel, ‘Burmese Experiences’. At that time, Burma was a colony of British Empire and the book explored his experiences during his stint in Burma and offered a dark look at British colonialism.
  • In December 1936, he travelled to Spain and joined a guerilla group fighting against General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Orwell was badly injured in the fighting in the Spanish Civil War. He was shot in throat and arm and barely managed to come back alive. He and his wife were indicted on treason charges in Spain but fortunately they had left the country by then.
  • His experience during the Spanish Civil War, where the Soviet-backed communists brutally suppressed revolutionary socialist dissenters, turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist.
  • After returning from Spain, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938 and spent several months recuperating at the Preston Hall Sanatorium.
  • During this period in order to support himself, Orwell took on all sort of writing assignments. He became an essayist, journalist and a literary critic.
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  • When World War II started, he was rejected for military service due to heath issues. Between 1941 and 1943, he worked as a propagandist at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
  • In 1943, he left his job at the BBC to become literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly left-wing magazine.
  • His writing career came truly flourished in 1945 with the publication of his novel ‘Animal Farm’. The novel is set in a farmyard and features two pigs—representing Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky—as its main protagonists. It's based on Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution. The novel was widely appreciated and brought much needed financial rewards in Orwell’s life.
  • ’Animal Farm’ was followed by another masterpiece ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Published in 1949, it’s a literary political fiction and dystopian science-fiction and gives readers a glimpse into what would happen if the government controlled every detail of an individual's life.
  • Orwell did not live long to enjoy the fruits of his success and succumbed to his deteriorating health shortly after the publication of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’
Major Works
  • Orwell is known for his two masterpieces: ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. The novels are considered as the two of the famous novels of the 20th century.
  • His other important works include his non-fiction works: 'The Road to Wigan Pier' (1937), which gives account of his experience of working class life in the north of England, and 'Homage to Catalonia' (1938), a memoir of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 2008, he was ranked second on 'The Times' list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy in 1936. Theirs’ was an open marriage and Orwell had a number of affairs with other women during his marriage to Eileen. The couple adopted a son, named Richard Horatio Blair, in 1944. Eileen died in 1945.
  • He married Sonia Brownell, editor at 'Horizon' literary magazine, on 13 October 1949, three months before his death.
  • Orwell died of tuberculosis on 21 January 1950, at the age of 46.

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Article Title
- George Orwell Biography
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Last Updated
- July 25, 2017
George Orwell

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