George Orwell (1903-1950)
v George Orwell was an English writer, journalist, and literary critic. His work focused on promoting freedom, democracy and humanitarian rights. He protested both communism and fascism.
v George Orwell was his pen name, his real being Eric Arthur Blair.
v Orwell is most famous for his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopian, sci-fi/political satire, written in the form of a diary.
v He's also famous for his allegory, Animal Farm, where animals kill their farmer and try running the farm themselves. It’s an allegory for the rise of communist Russia.
v George Orwell went to Spain in 1937, volunteering to fight alongside rebels against the fascist dictator, Franco. Orwell was wounded, and wrote a memoir about it, Homage to Catalonia. There is a square in Barcelona named in his honor.
v George Orwell has coined many words and phrases, including the Cold War, thought crimes, thought police, and Big Brother. People use the word Orwellian to describe any political doublespeak reminiscent of his stories. A classic example comes from a pig in Animal Farm, “All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
v The London Times has ranked Orwell second on their list of most influential writers since 1945.
Eric Blair was born in Motihari, India. His home there is now a national monument. At one year old, he and his mother moved back to England. An intelligent boy, he attended a number of prestigious schools, with scholarships, eventually getting into Eton college. Although a good student, he disliked school, and at Eton, his grades finally slipped to where he lost his scholarship.
So, his father suggested he join the Indian police force. Eric served in Burma for three years, until contracting dengue fever (horúčka dengue). Returning home, he quit the force, and began writing. Eric decided to write about the lives of poor people. He moved to East London, and dressed in rags (otrhané oblečenie) to see what it was like. He then did the same in Paris, and began writing articles about his experiences. He wrote for Monde, Le Progrès Civique, and G.K.’s Weekly. He once even got himself arrested on a drunk and disorderly charge, because he wanted to experience prison – luckily he was only held in a jail for a couple days.
Eric then became a teacher in England, while he collected his stories together into the memoir Down and Out in London and Paris. He used the pen name George Orwell to avoid embarrassment to his family. He chose George Orwell because, “It is a good round English name.”
The work was successful, and he soon traveled to northern England, investigating the lives of miners and other workers during the Great Depression. He wrote about their lives in The Road to Wigan Pier, which was controversial for the criticism he gave to Oswald Mosley, a communist agitator there. Orwell disliked Mosley for being authoritarian and anti-Semitic (against Jews). Many communist sympathizers, including publishers, were angry that Orwell, a leftist, wasn't supporting them, so it was always hard for him to find a publisher.
Following this, Orwell married a woman named Eileen O'Shaughnessy, and then joined the Spanish resistance against Franco. He fought for a year or so, until being shot in the neck by a sniper. While recovering, he was shocked to find his rebellion split among factions, with his group soon being outlawed. He and his wife barely escaped by train before being arrested. Orwell later explained, it was, "only a by-product of the Russian Trotskyist trials and from the start every kind of lie, including flagrant absurdities, has been circulated in the Communist press."
During WWII, Orwell tried to join the army, but didn't pass the physical because of his lungs. So, he joined the English Home Guard, or Dad's Army, one and a half million volunteers who guarded England's coast, in case of invasion. He was soon transferred to BBC to make propaganda films in India. He stayed three years, resigning to finish Animal Farm.In 1945, his wife died from what should've been a minor operation. Heartbroken, Orwell soon proposed to four different women, all of whom rejected him. He moved to a small island where he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was the last book he wrote. He married Sonia Brownwell, just three months before dying soon after of tuberculosis. She was the inspiration for the love interest in Nineteen Eighty-Four.