1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four: George Orwell Biography

Born Eric Blair in Bengal, India, in 1903, George Orwell understood English imperialism long before he began his career as a political critic and journalist. As the son of an official in the Indian Civil Service, Orwell spent his first eight years in India before his mother took him and his sisters to be educated in England. Sent to an elite boarding school, Orwell was one of few students allowed to attend at a lower tuition. Orwells lower social class status made him the target of other students and school officials disdain and snobbery. However, Orwell completed his early education successfully and was accepted to Eton on scholarship in 1917. At Eton, Orwell began to engage in political debate as he was introduced to socialist ideas for the first time. However, Orwell decided to join the Civil Service rather than attend university after he graduated from Eton in 1921. As a member of the Civil Service, Orwell was sent to Burma to serve in the Indian Imperial Police. Like his father, Orwell became an embodiment of English imperialism. Although he often disapproved of his own exercise of authority and power of the native Burmese, Orwells experience in Burma helped him clarify his populist political beliefs. In 1927, while on leave, Orwell returned to England and resigned his post in the Civil Service.


Orwell spent the next period of his life preceding the Spanish Civil War living and working among the poor and working classes of London and Paris. Orwell wrote novels (including Burmese Days and The Road to Wigan Pier), contributed to numerous newspapers and publications, ran a bookstore, and managed a pub with his wife. During this period, Orwell became a socialist and assumed his pen name after an English river next to which he once lived. When the Spanish Civil War erupted, Orwell joined the Republican side was badly wounded. Upon returning to England, Orwell tried to join the army but was rejected due to poor health. Instead, Orwell joined the Home Guard and worked for the BBC during the Second World War. By this time, Orwells anti-totalitarian, pro-socialist ideals had solidified and had found a voice in the first of Orwells most famous novels, Animal Farm, published in 1945. Four years later, Orwell published his second “anti-utopian” epic, 1984, but he lived to enjoy his success only one year. Orwell died in London from poor health in 1950.