His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism. Considered perhaps the 20th century best chronicler of English culture, Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is best known for the disappoints novel Nineteen Eighty-Four(1 949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1 945), which together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th- century author.
His book Homage to Catalonia( 1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, is widely acclaimed, as are his numerous essays on politics, literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of ‘ ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Rowel’s influence on popular and political culture endures, and several of his neologisms, along with the term Orwellian byword for totalitarian or manipulative social practices have entered the vernacular. 1. 1 Life and Works of George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1 903, in Motivator, Briar, in India.
His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who had married Lady Mary Fan, daughter of Thomas Fan, 8th Earl of Westernmost, and had income as an absentee landlord of slave plantations in Jamaica. His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman. Although the gentility was passed down the generations, the prosperity was not; Eric Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle class”. His father, Richard Wellesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service.
His mother, Ida Mabel Blair, grew up in Mullein, Burma where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older, and April, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him to England. (Blair family home in ShippTABLE, Exosphere) In 1 904, Flair’s mother settled at Henley-on-Thames. Thereafter, Eric was rough up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit, in the summer of 1907, he did not see his father again until 1912.
His mother’s diary from 1 905 indicates a lively round of social activity and artistic interests. The family moved to ShippTABLE before the First World War, and Eric became friendly with the Buddhism family, especially Chianti Buddhism. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field, and on being asked why, he said, “You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up. ” Chianti and Eric read and wrote poetry and dreamed f becoming famous writers. He told her that he might write a book in similar style to that of H.
G. Well’s A Modern Utopia. During this period, he enjoyed shooting, fishing and birdwatchers with Cantata’s brother and sister. At the age of five, Eric Blair was sent as a day-boy to the convent school in Henley- on-Thames which Marjorie attended (a Roman Catholic convent run by French Ursine, exiled from France after religious education was banned there in 1903). His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family was not wealthy enough to afford the fees, making it necessary for IM to obtain a scholarship.
Ida Flair’s brother Charles Limousine, who lived on the South Coast of England, was asked to find the best possible school to prepare Eric for public school entrance, and he recommended SST Cyprian School, Eastbound, East Sussex. Limousine, who was a proficient golfer, came into contact with the school and its headmaster at the Royal Eastbound Golf Club where he won several competitions in 1 903 and 1904. The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win the scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement which allowed Flairs parents to pay only half the normal fees.
In September 191 1 Eric arrived at SST Cyprian. He boarded at the school until he left going home only for school holidays. He knew nothing of the reduced-fee arrangement until his third year at the school, though he ‘soon recognized that he was from a poorer home’. Blair hated the school and many years later based his posthumously published essay Such,Such were Joys, on his time there. At SST. Cyprian, Blair first met Cyril Connelly, who himself became a noted writer and who, as the editor of Horizon, published many of Rowel’s essays.
As part of his school work, Blair wrote two poems that were published n the Henley and South Exosphere Standard. He came second to Connelly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school’s external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington College and Ton College. He left SST Cyprian in December 1 916. After Blair spent a term at Wellington in May 1 917, a place became availTABLE for him as a King’s Scholar at Ton which he took up, and he remained at Ton until December 1 921 when he left aged eighteen and a half.
Wellington, Orwell told his childhood friend Chianti Buddhism, was ‘beasts, but at Ton he said he was ‘interested and happy. His principal tutor was A. S. F. Grow fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge who remained a source of advice later in his career. Blair was briefly taught French by Aloud Huxley who spent a short interlude teaching at Ton. Stephen Rumanian, who was at Ton with Blair, noted that he and his contemporaries appreciated Huxley use of words and phrases, but there is no evidence of contact between Orwell and Huxley at Ton outside the classroom.
Cyril Connelly followed Blair to Ton, but because they were in separate years they did not associate with each other. Flair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time at Ton, he worked with Roger Manors to produce a college magazine, The Election Times, joined in the production of other publications College Days and Bubble understand participated in the Ton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be TABLE to obtain one.
However, Rumanian noted that he had a romantic idea about the East and it was decided that Blair should join the Indian Police Service. To do this, it was necessary to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southward, Suffolk by this time and Blair was enrolled at a “crammer” there called Caricaturist where he brushed up on his classics, English and History. Blair passed the exam, coming seventh out of the twenty-six candidates who exceeded the set pass mark. Personal life Chianti Bodice’s account Eric gnawed provides an insight into Bailiffs childhood.
She quoted his sister April that “he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person” and said herself of his friendship with the Buddhists “l do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolchildren he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as ‘C”‘. Cyril Connelly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise. Years later, Blair mordantly recalled his prep school in the essay “Such, Such Were the Joys”, claiming among other things that he “was made to study like a dog’ to earn a scholarship, which he alleged was solely to enhance the school’s prestige with parents.
Chianti Buddhism repudiated Rowel’s schoolboy misery described in the essay, stating that “he was a specially happy child”. Connelly remarked of him as a schoolboy, “The remarkTABLE thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself’. At Ton, John Vaughan Wilkes, his former headmaster’s son recalled, “He was extremely argumentative about anything and criticizing the masters and criticizing the other boys we enjoyed arguing with him.
He would generally win the arguments or think he had anyhow. ” Roger Manors concurs: “Endless arguments about all sorts of things, in which he was one of the great leaders. He was one of those boys who thought for himself’ Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddhism recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orangutan to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment. At Ton he played tricks on John Grace, his Master in College, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty.
Go, his tutor, said he “made himself as big a nuisance as he could” and “was a very unattractive boy”. Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southward for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor. In one of his As I Please essays he refers to a protracted joke when he answered an advertisement for a woman who claimed a cure for obesity. Blair had an enduring interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies, and Buddhism recalls his keen interest in ornithology.
He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog shooting down a jackdaw from the Ton roof to dissect it. His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives again Buddhism recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southward his sister April recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southward and Hayes. His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature. Relationships Buddhism and Blair lost touch shortly after he went to Burma, and she became unsympathetic towards him.
She wrote that it was because of the letters he wrote complaining about his life, but an addendum to Eric & Us by VenerTABLE reveals that he may have lost sympathy through an incident which was at best a clumsy seduction. Mabel Firer, who later became his confidante, said “He used to say the one thing he wished in this world was that he’d been attractive to women. He liked women and had many girlfriends I think in Burma. He had a girl in Southward and another girl in London. He was rather a womanlier, yet he was afraid he wasn’t attractive. Brenda Sallied (Southward) preferred friendship to any deeper relationship and maintained a correspondence with Blair for many years, particularly as a sounding board for his ideas. She wrote “He was a great letter writer. Endless letters, And mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages. ” His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past rendezvous or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches. When Orrville was in the sanatorium in Kent his wife’s reined Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight “an awkward situation arose. Jackson was to be the most critical of Rowel’s marriage to Eileen Goshawk’s newsy but their later correspondence hints a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Rowel’s closeness to Brenda Sallied. Orwell was to have an affair with his secretary at Tribune which caused Eileen much distress, and others have been mooted. In a letter to Ann Pompom he wrote: ‘l was sometimes unfaithful to Eileen, and I also treated her badly, and I think she treated me badly, too, at times, but it was a eel marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc. , Similarly he suggested to Celia Awkward that they had both been unfaithful. There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage. Orwell was very lonely after Linen’s death, and desperate for a wife, both as companion for himself and as mother for Richard. He proposed marriage to four women, and eventually Sonic Browne accepted. Policing in Burma Flairs grandmother lived at Mullein, and with family connections in the area, his choice of posting was Burma. In October 1 922 he sailed on board S. S. Hairdresser via the Suez Canal and Ceylon to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma.
A month later, he arrived at Rangoon and made the journey to Mandalay, the site of the police training school. After a short posting at Mayo, Bursa’s principal hill station, he was posted to the frontier outpost of Monogamy in the Roadway Delta at the beginning of 1924. His imperial policeman’s life gave him considerTABLE responsibilities for a young man, while his contemporaries Were still at university in England. When he was posted farther east in the Delta to Twenty as a sub-divisional officer, he was expansible for the security of some 200,000 people.
At the end of 1924 he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syrian, which was closer to Rangoon. Syrian was the site of the refinery of the Burma Oil Company, ‘the surrounding land a barren waste, all vegetation killed off by the fumes of sulfur dioxide pouring out day and night from the stacks of the refinery. ” Its proximity to Rangoon however, a cosmopolitan seaport, had its rewards: Blair went into the city as often as he could,” to browse in a bookshop; to eat well-cooked food; to get away from the boring routine of police life.
In September 1925 he went to Nisei, the home of Nisei Prison the second largest jail in Burma. In Nisei, he had “long talks on every conceivTABLE subject’ with a woman named Elise Maria Langford-Rae (later the wife of Kaki Launched Doreen), who noted his “sense of utter fairness in minutest details”. British Club building in Kathy, Burma In April 1 926 he moved to Mullein, where his grandmother lived. At the end of that year, he went to Kathy, in Upper Burma, where he contracted Dengue fever in 1927. He was entitled to a leave in England that year, and in view of his illness, was allowed to go home in July.
While on leave in England and on holiday with his family in Cornwall in September 1 927, he reappraised his life, decided not to return to Burma, and resigned from the Indian Imperial Police with the intention of becoming a writer. His Burma police experience yielded the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays A Hanging (1931) and Shooting an Elephant (1936). In Burma, Orwell had acquired a reputation as someone who didn’t fit in – he spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-Pokka activities such as attending the churches of the ethnic Karen group. A colleague, Roger Beaded, recalled (in a 1969 recording for the
BBC) that Orwell was adept at learning the language and that before he left Burma, “was TABLE to speak fluently with Burmese priests in ‘very high-flown Burmese. ‘” Orwell wrote later that he felt guilty for his role in the machine of empire and he “began to look more closely at his own country and saw that England also had its oppressed… ” Physical marks left by Burma remained with Orwell throughout his life. ‘While in Burma, he acquired a moustache similar to those worn by officers of the British regiments stationed there. [He] also acquired some tattoos; on each knuckle he had a small untidy blue circle.
Many Burmese living in rural areas still sport tattoos like this – they are believed to protect against bullets and snake bites. ” London and Paris Eric Flair’s lodgings in 1927 on PorTABLE Road, London In England, he settled back in the family home at Southward, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Estonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Go at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer. Early in the autumn of 1927 he moved to London. Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings, and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in PorTABLE Road a blue plaque commemorates his accidence there. Pitter’s association with the move “would have lent it a reassuring respectability in Mrs.. Plaids eyes. ” Pitter had a sympathetic interest in Flairs writing, pointed out weaknesses in his poetry, and advised him to write about what he knew. In fact he decided to write of “certain aspects of the present that he set out to know’ and “ventured into the East End of London – the first of the occasional sorties he would make to discover for himself the world of poverty and the down-and-outers who inhabit it. He had found a subject. These sorties, explorations, expeditions, tours or immersions were made intermittently over a period of five years. Following the precedent of Jack London (and particularly The people of the Abyss), a writer he admired, he started his exploratory expeditions slumming in the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Almshouse Causeway spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levels ‘kip’. For a while he “went native” in his own country, dressing like a tramp and making no concessions to middle class mores and expectations; he recorded his experiences of the low life for later use in The Spike, his first published assay, and the latter half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).
Rue du Pot-defer where Eric Blair (George Orwell) lived in Paris In the spring of 1 928, he moved to Paris, where the comparatively low cost of living and bohemian lifestyle offered an attraction for many aspiring writers, and he lived in the Rue du pot De Fear, a working class district in the Fifth Reinstatement. His Aunt Nellie Limousine also lived in Paris and gave him social and, if necessary, financial support. He worked on novels, including an early version of Burmese Days but nothing else survives from that activity.
More successful as a journalist, he published articles in Monde, a political/ literary journal edited by Henry Barbecues, – his first article as a professional writer, La Censure neglecter, appeared in this paper on 6 October 1928 G. K. ‘s Weekenders his first article to appear in England, A Farthing Newspaper, was printed on 29 December 1 928 – and Eel Progress Civvies (founded by the left-wing coalition Eel Cartel des Gauche). Three pieces appeared in successive weeks in Prior©s Civvies, the first looked at unemployment, the next, a day in the life of a tramp, and the third, the beggars of London.
In one or another of its destructive forms, poverty was to become his obsessive subject at the heart of almost everything he wrote until Homage to Catalonia. ” He fell seriously ill in February 1929 and was taken to the Hospital Cochin in the Fifteenth reinstatement, a free hospital maintained for the teaching of medical students (the basis of his essay How the Poor Die, published in 1946), and shortly afterwards had all his money stolen from the lodging house.
Whether through necessity or simply to collect material, he undertook menial jobs like dishwashing in a fashionTABLE hotel on he rue De Ravioli, providing experiences to be used in Down and Out in Paris and London. In August 1929 he sent a copy of “The Spike” to New Delphi magazine in London. This was owned by John Middleton Murky who had released editorial control to Max Plowman and Sir Richard Reese. Plowman accepted the work for publication.
Southward In December 1 929, after a year and three quarters in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents’ house in Southward, which was to remain his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the local community, and his sister April was running a tea house in the town. He became acquainted with many local people including a gym teacher at SST Felix Girls’ School, Southward, Brenda Seakale, the daughter of a clergyman. Although Seakale rejected his offer of marriage she was to remain a friend and regular correspondent about his work for many years.
He also renewed friends pips with older friends such as Dennis Cowlings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life. North Parade, Southward, Suffolk, England In the spring he had a short stay in Bramble, Leeds with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Taking, who was as unappreciative of Blair as hen they knew each other as children. Blair was undertaking some review work for Delphi and acting as a private tutor to a disTABLEd child at Southward. He followed this up by tutoring a family of three boys one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic. His history in these years is marked by dualities and contrasts. There is Blair leading a respecTABLE, outwardly eventides life at his parents’ house in Southward, writing; then in contrast, there is Blair as Burton (the name he used in his down-and-out episodes) in search of experience in the kips and spikes, in the East End, on the road, and in the hop fields of Kent. ” He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Firer who were later to influence his career. Over the next year he visited them in London often meeting their friend Max Plowman.
Other homes availTABLE to him were those of Ruth Pitter and Richard Reese. These acted as places for him to “change” for his sporadic tramping expeditions where one of his jobs was to do domestic work at a lodgings for half a crown a day. Meanwhile, Blair now contributed regularly to Delphi, with “A Hanging’ appearing in August 1 931. From August to September 1931 his explorations of the lower depths continued, and extended to following the East End tradition of working in the Kent hop fields (an activity which his lead character in A Clergyman’s Daughter also engages in), and he kept a diary covering the entire experience.
At the end of this, he ended up in the Dooley Street kip, but could not stand it for long and with a financial contribution from his parents moved to Windsor Street where he stayed until Christmas. Hoping-Popping by Eric Blair, appeared in the October 1 931 issue of New Statesman, where Cyril Connelly was on the staff. Mabel Piper put him in contact with Leonard Moore who was to become his literary agent. At this time Jonathan Cape rejected A Scullion’s Diary, the first version of Down and Out. On the advice Of Richard Reese he offered it to Faber & Faber, whose editorial director, T.
S. Eliot, also rejected it. To conclude the year Blair attempted another exploratory venture of getting himself arrested so that he could spend Christmas in prison, but the relevant authorities did not cooperate and he returned home to Southward after two days in a police cell. Teaching In April 1 932 Blair took a job teaching at The Hawthorns High School, a prep school for boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school that provided private schooling for children of local tradesmen and shopkeepers and comprised only 20 boys and one other master.
While at the school he became friendly with the curate of the local parish church and became involved with it. Mabel Firer had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gallon was prepared to publish A Scullion’s Diary for a EYE advance, for his recently founded publishing house, Victor Collagen Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works. At the end of he school summer term in 1 932 Blair returned to Southward, where his parents had been TABLE to buy their own home as a result of a legacy.
Blair and his sister April spent the summer holidays making the house habiTABLE while he also worked on Burmese Days. He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques but her attachment to Dennis Cowlings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship. “Clink”, an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Delphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of is work now known as Down and Out in Paris and London which he wished to publish under an assumed name in order to avoid potential embarrassment to his family for having been a tramp.
In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1 932) he left the choice of pseudonym to him and to Collagen. Four days later, he wrote to Moore, suggesting the pseudonyms P. S. Burton (a name he used when tramping), Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, and H. Lewis Always. He finally adopted the mom De plume George Orwell because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, “It is a good round English name. ” Down and Out in Paris and London was published on 9 January 1933. He had little free time and was still working on Burmese Days. Down and Out Was successful and it was published by Harper and Brothers in New York.
In the summer of 1933 Blair finished at Hawthorns to take up a teaching job at Frays College, in Sobering, West London. This was a much larger establishment with 200 pupils and a full complement of staff. He acquired a motorcycle and took trips through the surrounding countryside. On one of these expeditions he became soaked and caught a chill which developed into pneumonia. He was taken to Submerged Cottage Hospital where for a time his life was believed to e in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southward to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.
He was disappointed when Collagen turned down Burmese Days, mainly on the grounds of potential libel actions but Harpers were prepared to publish it in the united States. Meanwhile back at home Blair started work on the novel A Clergyman’s Daughter drawing upon his life as a teacher and on life in Southward. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Sallied had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively only in Southward ? pottering on the allotments, walking alone and spending time with his father.
Eventually in October, after sending A Clergyman’s Daughter to Moore, he left for London to take a job that had been found for him by his Aunt Nellie Limousine. Hempstead This job was as a part-time assistant in “Booksellers’ Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hempstead run by Francis and Infancy Westport who were friends of Nellie Limousine in the Exasperator movement. The Westport had an easy-going outlook and provided him with comforTABLE accommodation at Warwick Mansions, pond Street. He was job sharing with Jon Chicken who also ivied with the Westport.
Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons, having the mornings free to write and the evenings to socialism. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westport, he was TABLE to enjoy the company of Richard Reese and the Delphi writers and Mabel Firer. The Westport and Chicken were members of the Independent Labor Party although at this time Blair was not seriously politically aligned. He was writing for the Delphi and dealing with pre-publication issues with A Clergyman Daughter and Burmese Days.
At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Firer found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman’s Daughter was published on 11 March 1935. In the spring of 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen Gaucheness’s when his landlady, Roseland Performer, who was studying for a masters degree in psychology at University College London, invited some of her fellow students to a party. One of these students, the future translator of Chekhov and author of memoirs Elizabeth Fen, later recalled Orwell and his friend Richard Reese ‘draped’ at the fireplace, looking, she thought, ‘moth-eaten and prematurely aged.
Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly. In June, Burmese Days Was published and following Connelly review of it in the New Statesman, the two re-established contact. In August Blair moved into a flat in Kenneth Town which he shared with Michael Sayers and Earner Happenstance. The relationship was sometimes awkward, Orwell and Happenstance even coming to blows, though they remained friends and later worked together on BBC broadcasts. He was working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and also tried to write a serial for the News Chronicle, which was an unsuccessful venture.
By October 1 935 his flat-mates had moved out, and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own. He remained until the end of January 1936 when he stopped working at Booksellers’ Corner. The Road to Wigwag Pier At this time, Victor Collagen suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England. Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written of England north of the Trend and this had stimulated an interest in reportage. Furthermore the depression had introduced a number of working-class writers from the North of England to he reading public.