George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in Montihari, Begal, India, on June 25th, 1903. One year after being born, he moved to England with his mother and sister. His father stayed stayed in India and subsequently barely visited Eric.
In England, Eric found a love for writing early, writing his first poem at age four. His first word that he learned was “beastly.” He wrote so often that people joked that he had the “writing flu.” When he was older, he attended a boarding school, where he experienced a class system where richer students were favored; this in turn would contribute to major themes in his writing. He was not treated well in his school, and often used books as his retreat. This helped him improve his own writing, and indirectly got him two scholarships into two colleges.
Once out of school in 1922, Eric went back to India and became an officer on the Imperial Police Force in India. The job did not suit him well, and after five years on the force, resigned and returned to England. He decided to go back into writing. There, he published a few books and essays. His first major work was Down and Out in Paris and London, published in 1933. In it, he criticized the treatment of the lower classes. It was here that he first went under the pseudonym of George Orwell to protect himself from controversy.
Orwell met his hispanic wife in 1934, and got married in 1936, under a determine “open-marriage-” meaning Orwell was free to date other women as well. That year, he joined the Spanish Civil War in Spain. There, he was shot in the throat, prohibiting him from talking for a while; after he returned to England, he was charged with treason. In 1938, one year before the start of World War II, Orwell was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
At the start of the Second World War, Orwell remained anti-war, believing England would become fascist by fighting fascism. However, after Germany and Russia became allies in the early stages of the war, he became more patriotic. He used his experience in writing to then become a war propagandist for England, which he did not enjoy.
Orwell decided to join the British Army, but for health reasons, was prohibited from doing so. Instead, he joined the Home Guard, a second line of defense made up of volunteers, usually older men. Meanwhile, he wrote news articles for British newspapers, and eventually got a job at the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 1941. He broadcast war-based news to India to garner Indian interest in the war, as India was close to Japan.
During the end of the war, Orwell became curious about the Ministry of Information, centered in the University of London. The Ministry of Information was base of British propaganda and news information. It inspired him to create the fictional Ministry of Truth- a place where the truth is distorted for the benefit for the people- in his dystopian novel 1984. It was published four years after the war ended in 1949.
In 1944, Orwell adopted a son and named him Richard Blair. He would then go on to publish his most famous works in his last years. In 1945, he published Animal Farm, a satirical work on the Russian Revolution with all humans and politicians portrayed by animals. Four years later, in 1949, he published his final book, 1984. 1984 was written with a dystopian theme, and many elements of the book were inspired from real life. This includes the fictional Ministry of Truth, based on the real-life Ministry of Information, and the fictional characters Goldstein and Napoleon the Pig, who shows parallels to revolutionaries of the time. Both Animal Farm and 1984 were great successes.
As Orwell and his wife had agreed upon an open marriage, Orwell married his editor in early 1950. Just days later, he died from tuberculosis on January 21st of the same year, and his editor inherited Orwell’s property.
George Orwell is now known as one of the most influential satirical writers of the 20th century. He is remembered for his attention to detail, and his life as a scholar. He is also often cited as a very successful political writer. However, he is most famous for his works Animal Farm and 1984, books with social commentary still relevant today.