George Orwell Explained

Eric Arthur Blair
Pseudonym:George Orwell
Birthname:Eric Arthur Blair
Born:25 June 1903
Birthplace:Motihari, Bihar, India
Deathplace:London, England
Occupation:Writer; author, journalist
Notableworks:Homage to Catalonia (1938)
Animal Farm (1945)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
Influences:James Burnham, Charles Dickens, Henry Fielding, Gustave Flaubert, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, Jack London, W. Somerset Maugham, Upton Sinclair, Jonathan Swift, Leo Tolstoy, Leon Trotsky, H. G. Wells, Tom Wintringham, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Émile Zola
Influenced:Margaret Atwood, Albert Camus, Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, Ignazio Silone, Kurt Vonnegut

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950),[1] better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author. His work is marked by a profound consciousness of social injustice, an intense dislike of totalitarianism, and a passion for clarity in language.

Considered "perhaps the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture",[2] he wrote works in many different genres including fiction, polemics, journalism, memoir and critical essays. His most famous works are two novels: Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).


Early life

Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India.[3] His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a wealthy plantation owner in Jamaica and his grandfather 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 Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Burma where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters; Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, Ida Blair took him to England.[4]

In 1905, Blair's mother settled at Henley-on-Thames. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit he did not see his father again until 1912. His mother's diary for 1905 indicates a lively round of social activity and artistic interests. The family moved to Shiplake before World War I, and Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially Jacintha Buddicom. 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". Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He told her that he might write a book in similar style to that of H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia. During this period, he enjoyed shooting, fishing, and birdwatching with Jacintha’s brother and sister.[5]


At the age of six, Eric Blair attended the Anglican parish school in Henley-on-Thames, remaining until he was eight.[6] 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 him to obtain a scholarship. Ida Blair's brother Charles Limouzin, who lived on the South Coast, recommended St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, Sussex. The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win the scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement which allowed Blair's parents to pay only half the normal fees. Later, and with publication delayed until after his death, Orwell was to write Such, Such Were the Joys, an account of his unhappy time at the school. At St. Cyprian's, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who would himself become a noted writer and who, as the editor of Horizon magazine, would publish many of Orwell's essays. While at the school Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard, the local newspaper,[7] [8] came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school's external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton.

After a term at Wellington College, Blair transferred to Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar (1917–1921). His tutor was A. S. F. Gow, fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge who remained a source of advice later in his career. Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley who spent a short interlude teaching at Eton, but outside the classroom there was no contact between them. Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years they did not associate with each other. Blair's academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a college magazine and participated in the Eton 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 able to obtain one. However Stephen Runciman, who was a close contemporary, noted that he had a romantic idea about the East[9] and, for whatever reason, it was decided that Blair should join the Indian Imperial Police. To do this, it was necessary to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southwold, Suffolk by this time and Blair was enrolled at a "crammer" there called "Craighurst" where he brushed up on his classics, English and History. Blair passed the exam, coming seventh out of twenty-seven.


Blair's grandmother lived at Moulmein, and with family connections in the area, his choice of posting was Burma. In October 1922, he sailed on board SS Herefordshire 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 Maymyo, Burma's principal hill station, he was posted to the frontier outpost of Myaungmya in the Irrawaddy Delta at the beginning of 1924.His imperial policeman's life gave him considerable responsibilities for a young man of his age while his contemporaries were still at university in England, and when he was posted to Twante as a sub-divisional officer he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924 he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, which was closer to Rangoon. In September 1925 he went to Insein, the home of the second-largest jail in Burma. At Insein he had "long talks on every conceivable subject" with a journalist friend, Elisa Maria Langford-Rae — later Kasini Eliza Maria, who noted his "sense of utter fairness in minutest details".[10]

In April 1926 he moved to Moulmein, where his grandmother lived, and at the end of that year went on to Katha. There he contracted Dengue fever in 1927. He was entitled to leave in England in that year and in view of his illness was allowed to go home in July. While on leave in England in 1927, he reappraised his life and resigned from the Indian Imperial Police with the intention of becoming a writer. The Burma police experience yielded the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays "A Hanging" (1931) and "Shooting an Elephant" (1936).

London and Paris

In England, he settled back in the family home at Southwold, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Etonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Gow at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer,[11] and as a result he decided to move to London. Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in Portobello Road[12] (a blue plaque commemorates his residence there). Pitter took a vague interest in his writing as he set out to collect literary material on a social class as different from his own as were the natives of Burma.

Following the precedent of Jack London, whom he admired, he started his exploratory expeditions to the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Limehouse Causeway (spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levy's '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 essay, and the latter half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

In the spring of 1928, he moved to Paris, where the comparatively low cost of living and bohemian lifestyle offered an attraction for many aspiring writers. His Aunt Nellie Limouzin also lived there and gave him social and, if necessary, financial support. He worked on novels, but only Burmese Days survives from that activity. More successful as a journalist, he published articles in Monde (not to be confused with Le Monde), G. K.'s Weekly and Le Progres Civique (founded by the left-wing coalition Le Cartel des Gauches).

He fell seriously ill in March 1929 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 fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli 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 Adelphi magazine in London. This was owned by John Middleton Murry who had released editorial control to Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees. Plowman accepted the work for publication.


In December 1929, after a year and three quarters in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents' house in Southwold, which was to remain his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the local community, and his sister Avril was running a tea house in the town. He became acquainted with many local people including a local gym teacher, Brenda Salkield, the daughter of a clergyman. Although Salkield rejected his offer of marriage she was to remain a friend and regular correspondent about his work for many years. He also renewed friendships with older friends such as Dennis Collings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life.[13]

In the spring he had a short stay in Leeds with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Dakin whose regard for Blair was as unappreciative then as when he knew him as a child. Blair was undertaking some review work for Adelphi and acting as a private tutor to a handicapped child at Southwold. He followed this up by tutoring a family of three boys one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic.[14] He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Fierz who were later to influence his career. Over the next year he visited them in London often meeting their friend Max Plowman. Other homes available to him were those of Ruth Pitter and Richard Rees. 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.[15]

Meanwhile, Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with "A Hanging" appearing in August 1931. In August and September 1931 his explorations 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). At the end of this, he ended up in the Tooley 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. "Hop Picking", by Eric Blair, appeared in in the October 1931 issue of New Statesman, where Cyril Connolly was on the staff. Mabel Fierz 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 Rees 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 Southwold after two days in a police cell.


Blair then took a job teaching at the Hawthorne High School for Boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school that provided private schooling for local tradesmen and shopkeepers and comprised only 20 boys and one other master.[16] While at the school he became friendly with the local curate and became involved with the local church. Mabel Fierz had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gollancz was prepared to publish A Scullion's Diary for a £40 advance, for his recently founded publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works.

At the end of the school summer term in 1932 Orwell returned to Southwold, where his parents had been able to buy their own home as a result of a legacy. Blair and his sister Avril spent the summer holidays making the house habitable while he also worked on Burmese Days.[17] He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques but her attachment to Dennis Collings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship.[18]

"Clink", an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Adelphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of his work now known as Down and Out in Paris and London which he wished to publish under an assumed name. In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1932) he left the choice of pseudonym to him and to Gollancz. 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 Allways.[19] He finally adopted the nom 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 but Blair was back at the school at Hayes. 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 Blair finished at Hawthornes to take up a teaching job at Frays College, at Uxbridge, Middlesex. 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 Uxbridge Cottage Hospital where for a time his life was believed to be in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southwold to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.

He was disappointed when Gollancz 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 Southwold. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Salkield had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively lonely in Southwold — 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 Limouzin.


This job was as a part-time assistant in "Booklover's Corner", a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes had an easy-going outlook and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was job-sharing with Jon Kimche who also lived with the Westropes. Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons, having the mornings free to write and the evenings to socialise. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westropes, he was able to enjoy the company of Richard Rees and the Adelphi writers and Mabel Fierz. The Westropes and Kimche were members of the Independent Labour Party although at this time Blair was not seriously politically aligned. He was writing for the Adelphi and dealing with pre-publication issues with A Clergymans Daughter and Burmese Days.

At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Fierz found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman's Daughter was published on the 11 March 1935. In the spring of 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy when his landlady, who was studying at the University of London, invited some of her fellow students. Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly.

In July, Burmese Days was published and following Connolly's review of it in the New Statesman, the two re-established contact. In August Blair moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayer and Rayner Heppenstall. 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 1935 his flat-mates had moved out, and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own.

The Road to Wigan Pier

At this time, Victor Gollancz suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England.[20] Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written of England north of the Trent and this had stimulated an interest in reportage. Furthermore the depression had spawned a number of working-class writers from the north of England.

On 31 January 1936, Orwell set out by public transport and on foot via Coventry, Stafford, the Potteries and Macclesfield, reaching Manchester. Arriving after the banks had closed, he had to stay in a common lodging house. Next day he picked up a list of contact addresses sent by Richard Rees. One of these, trade union official Frank Meade, suggested Wigan, where Orwell spent February staying in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop. At Wigan he gained entry to many houses to see how people lived, took systematic notes of housing conditions and wages earned, went down a coal mine, and spent days at the local public library consulting public health records and reports on working conditions in mines.

During this time he was distracted by dealing with libel and stylistic issues relating to Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He made a quick visit to Liverpool and spent March in South Yorkshire, spending time in Sheffield and Barnsley. As well as visiting mines and observing social conditions, he attended meetings of the Communist Party and of Oswald Mosley where he saw the tactics of the Blackshirts. He punctuated his stay with visits to his sister at Headingley, during which he visited the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth.

His investigations gave rise to The Road to Wigan Pier, published by Gollancz for the Left Book Club in 1937. The first half of this work documents his social investigations of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It begins with an evocative description of working life in the coal mines. The second half is a long essay of his upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, which includes criticism of some of the groups on the left. Gollancz feared the second half would offend readers and inserted a mollifying preface to the book while Orwell was in Spain.

Orwell needed somewhere where he could concentrate on writing his book, and once again help was provided by Aunt Nellie who was living in a cottage at Wallington, Hertfordshire. It was a very small cottage called the "Stores" with almost no modern facilities in a tiny village. Orwell took over the tenancy and had moved in by 2 April 1936. He started work on the book by the end of April, and as well as writing, he spent hours working on the garden and investigated the possibility of reopening the Stores as a village shop.

Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Shortly afterwards, the political crisis began in Spain and Orwell followed developments there closely. At the end of the year, concerned by Francisco Franco's Falangist uprising, Orwell decided to go to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Under the erroneous impression that he needed papers to cross the frontier, on John Strachey's recommendation Orwell applied unsuccessfully to Harry Pollitt, leader of the British Communist Party, who suggested joining the International Brigade and advised him to get safe passage from the Spanish Embassy in Paris.[21] Not wishing to commit himself until he'd seen the situation in situ, Orwell instead used his ILP contacts to get a letter of introduction to John McNair in Barcelona.

The Spanish Civil War, and Catalonia

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. A few days later at Barcelona, he met John McNair of the ILP Office who quoted him: "I've come to fight against Fascism".[22] Orwell stepped into a complex political situation in Catalonia. The Republican government was supported by a number of factions with conflicting aims, including the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM — Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista), the anarcho-syndicalist CNT and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (a wing of the Spanish Communist Party, which was backed by Soviet arms and aid). The Independent Labour Party was linked to the POUM and so Orwell joined the POUM.

After a time at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona he was sent to the relatively quiet Aragon Front under Georges Kopp. By January 1937 he was at Alcubierre 1500 feet above sea level in the depth of winter. There was very little military action, and the lack of equipment and other deprivations which made it uncomfortable. Orwell, with his Cadet Corps and police training was quickly made a corporal. On the arrival of a British ILP Contingent about three weeks later, Orwell and the other English militiaman, Williams, were sent with them to Monte Oscuro. The newly-arrived ILP contingent included Bob Smillie, Bob Edwards, Stafford Cottman and Jack Branthwaite. The unit were then sent on to Huesca.

Meanwhile, back in England, Eileen had been handling the issues relating to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier before setting out for Spain herself, leaving Aunt Nellie Limouzin to look after The Stores. Eileen volunteered for a post in John McNair's office and with the help of Georges Kopp paid visits to her husband, bringing him English tea, chocolate and cigars.[23] Orwell had to spend some days in hospital with a poisoned hand and had most of his possessions stolen by the staff. He returned to the front and saw some action in night attack on the Nationalist trenches where he chased an enemy soldier with a bayonet and bombed an enemy rifle position.

In April, Orwell returned to Barcelona where he applied to join the International Brigades to become involved in fighting closer to Madrid. However this was the time of Barcelona May Days and Orwell was caught up in the factional fighting. He spent much of the time on a roof, with a stack of novels, but encountered Jon Kimche from his Hampstead days during the stay. The subsequent campaign of lies and distortion carried out by the Communist press, in which the POUM was accused of collaborating with the fascists, had a dramatic effect on Orwell. Instead of joining the International Brigades as he had intended, he decided to return to the Aragon Front. Once the May fighting was over, he was approached by a Communist friend who asked if he still intended transferring to the International Brigades. Orwell expressed surprise that they should still want him, because according to the Communist press he was a fascist.[24]

Back at the front, a sniper's bullet caught him in the throat. Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters[25] and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. Unable to speak, and with blood pouring from his mouth, Orwell was stretchered to Siétamo, loaded on an ambulance and after a bumpy journey via Barbastro arrived at the hospital at Lerida. He recovered sufficiently to get up and on the 27 May 1937 was sent on to Tarragona and two days later to a POUM sanatorium in the suburbs of Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible. He received electrotherapy treatment and was declared medically unfit for service.

By the middle of June the political situation in Barcelona had deteriorated and the POUM — seen by the Communists as a Trotskyist organisation — was outlawed and under attack. Members, including Kopp, were arrested and others were in hiding. Orwell and his wife were under threat and had to lay low,[26] although they broke cover to try to help Kopp.

Finally with their passports in order, they escaped from Spain by train, diverting to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a short stay before returning to England. Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War gave rise to Homage to Catalonia (1938).

Rest and recuperation

Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O'Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. He found his views on the Spanish Civil War out of favour. Kingsley Martin rejected two of his works and Gollancz was equally cautious. At the same time, the communist Daily Worker was running an attack on The Road to Wigan Pier, misquoting Orwell as saying "the working classes smell"; a letter to Gollancz from Orwell threatening libel action brought a stop to this. Orwell was also able to find a more sympathetic publisher for his views in Frederic Warburg of Secker & Warburg. Orwell returned to Wallington, which he found in disarray after his absence. He acquired goats, a rooster he called "Henry Ford", and a poodle he called "Marx" and settled down to animal husbandry and writing Homage to Catalonia.

There were thoughts of going to India to work on a local newspaper there, but by March 1938 Orwell's health had deteriorated. He was admitted to a sanitorium at Aylesford, Kent to which his brother-in-law Laurence O'Shaughnessy was attached. He was thought initially to be suffering from tuberculosis and stayed in the sanitorium until September. A stream of visitors came to see him including Common, Heppenstall, Plowman and Cyril Connolly. Connolly brought with him Stephen Spender, a cause of some embarrassment as Orwell had referred to Spender as a "pansy friend" some time earlier. Homage to Catalonia was published by Secker & Warburg and was a commercial flop. In the latter part of his stay at the clinic Orwell was able to go for walks in the countryside and study nature.

The novelist L.H. Myers secretly funded a trip to French Morocco for half a year for Orwell to avoid the English winter and recover his health. The Orwells set out in September 1938 via Gibraltar and Tangier to avoid Spanish Morocco and arrived at Marrakech. They rented a villa on the road to Casablanca and during that time Orwell wrote Coming Up for Air. They arrived back in England on 30 March 1939 and Coming Up for Air was published in June. Time was spent between Wallington and Southwold working on Orwell's Dickens essay and it was in July 1939 that Orwell's father, Richard Blair, died.

World War II and Animal Farm

On the outbreak of World War II, Orwell's wife Eileen started work in the Censorship Department in London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war effort but nothing transpired. He returned to Wallington, and in the autumn of 1939 he wrote essays for Inside the Whale. For the next year he was occupied writing reviews for plays, films and books for The Listener, Time and Tide and New Adelphi. At the beginning of 1940, the first edition of Connolly's Horizon appeared, and this provided a new outlet for Orwell's work as well as new literary contacts. In May the Orwells took lease of a flat in London at Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street, Marylebone. It was the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the death in France of Eileen's brother Lawrence caused her considerable grief and long term depression.

Orwell was declared "Unfit for any kind of military service" by the Medical Board in June, but soon afterwards found an opportunity to become involved in war activities by joining the Home Guard. He shared Tom Wintringham's socialist vision for the Home Guard as a revolutionary People's Militia. Sergeant Orwell managed to recruit Frederic Warburg to his unit. During the Battle of Britain he used to spend weekends with Warburg and his new friend Zionist Tosco Fyvel at Twyford, Berkshire. At Wallington he worked on "England Your England" and in London wrote reviews for various periodicals. Visiting Eileen's family in Greenwich brought him face-to-face with the effects of the blitz on East London.

Early in 1941 he started writing for the American Partisan Review and contributed to Gollancz' anthology The Betrayal of the Left, written in the light of the Hitler-Stalin pact. He also applied unsuccessfully for a job at the Air Ministry. In the Home Guard his mishandling of a mortar put two of his unit in hospital. Meanwhile he was still writing reviews of books and plays and at this time met the novelist Anthony Powell. He also took part in a few radio broadcasts for the Eastern Service of the BBC. In March the Orwells moved to St John's Wood in a 7th floor flat at Langford Court, while at Wallington Orwell was "digging for victory" by planting potatoes.

In August 1941, Orwell finally obtained "war work" when he was taken on full time by the BBC's Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India in the context of propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links. This was Orwell's first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office. However it gave him an opportunity to create cultural programmes with contributions from T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, E. M. Forster, Mulk Raj Anand, and William Empson among others.

At the end of August he had a dinner with H. G. Wells which degenerated into a row because of slights made previously by Orwell in a Horizon article. In October Orwell had a bout of bronchitis and the illness recurred frequently. David Astor was looking for a provocative contributor for The Observer and invited him to write for him — the first article appearing in March 1942. In spring of 1942 Eileen changed jobs to work at the Ministry of Food and Orwell's mother and sister Avril took war work in London and came to stay with them. They all moved to a basement at Mortimer Crescent in Kilburn in the summer.

At the BBC, Orwell introduced Voice a literary programme for his Indian broadcasts, and by now was leading an active social life with literary friends, particularly on the political left. Late in 1942, he started writing for the left-wing weekly Tribune directed by Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and George Strauss. In March 1943 Orwell's mother died and around the same time he told Moore he was starting work on a new book, which would turn out to be Animal Farm.

In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years. His resignation followed a report confirming his fears that few Indians listened to the broadcasts,[27] but he was also keen to concentrate on writing Animal Farm. At this time he was also discharged from the Home Guard.

In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews[28] as well as the regular column "As I Please". He was still writing reviews for other magazines, and becoming a respected pundit among left-wing circles but also close friends with people on the right like Powell, Astor and Malcolm Muggeridge. By April 1944 Animal Farm was ready for publication. Gollancz refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which was a crucial ally in the war. A similar fate was met from other publishers until Jonathan Cape agreed to take it.

In May the Orwells had the opportunity to adopt a child, thanks to the contacts of Eileen's sister Gwen O'Shaughnassy, then a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June a V-1 flying bomb landed on Mortimer Crescent and the Orwells had to find somewhere else to live. Orwell had to scrabble around in the rubble for his collection of books, which he had finally managed to transfer from Wallington, and carting them away in a wheelbarrow.

Another bombshell was Cape's withdrawal of support of Animal Farm. The decision is believed to be due to the influence of Peter Smollett, who worked at the Ministry of Information and was later disclosed to be a Soviet agent.[29]

The Orwells spent some time in the North East dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio. In October 1944 they had set up home in Islington in a flat on the 7th floor of a block. Baby Richard joined them there, and Eileen gave up work to look after her family. Warburg had agreed to publish Animal Farm, planned for the following March, although it did not appear in print until August 1945. By February 1945 David Astor had invited Orwell to become a war correspondent for the Observer. Orwell had been looking for the opportunity throughout the war, but his failed medical reports prevented him from being allowed anywhere near action. He went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied.

It was while he was there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. She had not given Orwell much notice about this operation because of worries about the cost and because she expected to make a speedy recovery. Orwell returned home for a while and then went back to Europe. He returned finally to London to cover the 1945 UK General Election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the U.S., on 26 August 1946.

Jura and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.

For the next four years Orwell mixed journalistic work — mainly for the Tribune, the Observer and the Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines — with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.

In the year following Eileen's death he published around 130 articles and was active in various political lobbying campaigns. He employed a housekeeper, Susan Watson, to look after his adopted son at the Islington flat, which visitors now described as "bleak". In September he spent a fortnight on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and saw it as a place to escape from the hassle of London literary life. David Astor was instrumental in arranging a place for Orwell at Jura. Astor's family owned Scottish estates in the area and a fellow Old Etonian Robert Fletcher had a property on the island. During the winter of 1945 to 1946 Orwell made several hopeless and unwelcome marriage proposals to younger women, including Celia Kirwan (Arthur Koestler's sister-in-law), Ann Popham who happened to live in the same block of flats and Sonia Brownell, one of Connolly's coterie at the Horizon office. Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. In 1945 or early 1946, while still living at Canonbury Square, Orwell wrote an article on "British Cookery", complete with recipes, commissioned by the British Council. Given the post-war shortages, both parties agreed not to publish it.[30] His sister Marjorie died of kidney disease in May and shortly after, on 22 May 1946, Orwell set off to live at Jura.

Barnhill[31] was an abandoned farmhouse with outbuildings near the northern end of the island, situated at the end of a five-mile (8 km), heavily rutted track from Ardlussa, where the owners lived. Conditions at the farmhouse were primitive but the natural history and the challenge of improving the place appealed to Orwell. His sister Avril accompanied him there and young novelist Paul Potts made up the party. In July Susan Watson arrived with his son Richard. Tensions developed and Potts departed after one of his manuscripts was used to light the fire. Orwell meanwhile set to work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Susan Watson's boyfriend David Holbrook arrived. A fan of Orwell since schooldays, he found the reality very different, with Orwell hostile and disagreeable probably because of Holbrook's membership of the Communist Party.[32] Susan Watson could no longer stand being with Avril and she and her boyfriend left.

Orwell returned to London in late 1946 and picked up his literary journalism again. Now a well-known writer, he was swamped with work. Apart from a visit to Jura in the new year he stayed in London for one of the coldest British winters on record and with such a national shortage of fuel that he burnt his furniture and his child's toys. The heavy smog in the days before the Clean Air Act 1956 did little to help his health about which he was reticent, keeping clear of medical attention. Meanwhile he had to cope with rival claims of publishers Gollancz and Warburg for publishing rights. About this time he co-edited a collection titled British Pamphleteers with Reginald Reynolds. In April 1947 he left London for good, ending the leases on the Islington flat and Wallington cottage. Back on Jura in gales and rainstorms he struggled to get on with Nineteen Eighty-Four but through the summer and autumn made good progress. During that time his sister's family visited, and Orwell led a disastrous boating expedition which nearly led to loss of life and a soaking which was not good for his health. In December a chest specialist was summoned from Glasgow who pronounced Orwell seriously ill and a week before Christmas 1947 he was in hospital in Glasgow. Tuberculosis was diagnosed and the request for permission to import streptomycin to treat Orwell went as far as Aneurin Bevan, now Minister of Health. By the end of July 1948 Orwell was able to return to Jura and by December he had finished the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In January 1949, in a very weak condition, he set off for a sanatorium in Gloucestershire, escorted by Richard Rees.

The sanatorium at Cranham consisted of a series of small wooden chalets or huts in a remote part of the Cotswolds near Stroud. Visitors were shocked by Orwell's appearance and concerned by the short-comings and ineffectiveness of the treatment. Friends were worried about his finances, but by now he was comparatively well-off and making arrangements with his accountants to reduce his tax bill. He was writing to many of his friends, including Jacintha Buddicom, who had "rediscovered" him, and in March 1949, was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell's list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs.[29] [33] Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.

Final months and death

There was a second courtship of Sonia Brownell during the summer, and a marriage announced in September, shortly before Orwell was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell's affairs and attended diligently in hospital causing concern to some old friends like Muggeridge. The wedding took place in the hospital room on 13 October 1949.[34] with David Astor as best man. Orwell was in decline and visited by an assortment of visitors including Muggeridge, Connolly, Lucian Freud, Stephen Spender, Paul Potts, Anthony Powell and his Eton tutor Anthony Gow. Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted, but Orwell was getting weaker by Christmas. Early on 21 January 1950 an artery burst in his lungs, and a few moments later he was dead, aged 46[35]

Orwell requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated, against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see if any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard. David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire and negotiated with the vicar for Orwell to be interred in All Saints' Churchyard there, although he had no connection with the village.[36] His gravestone bore the simple epitaph: "Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born 25 June 1903, died 21 January 1950"; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen-name.

Orwell's son, Richard Blair, was raised by an aunt after his father's death. He maintains a low public profile, though he has occasionally given interviews about the few memories he has of his father. Richard Blair worked for many years as an agricultural agent for the British government.



During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books of reportage: Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England, and the class divide generally) and Homage to Catalonia. According to Irving Howe, Orwell was "the best English essayist since Hazlitt, perhaps since Dr Johnson."[37]

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect developments in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state exerts complete control.

Coming Up for Air, his last novel before World War II is the most English of his novels; alarums of war mingle with images of idyllic Thames-side Edwardian childhood of protagonist George Bowling. The novel is pessimistic; industrialism and capitalism have killed the best of Old England, and there were great, new external threats. In homely terms, Bowling posits the totalitarian hypotheses of Borkenau, Orwell, Silone and Koestler: "Old Hitler's something different. So's Joe Stalin. They aren't like these chaps in the old days who crucified people and chopped their heads off and so forth, just for the fun of it ... They're something quite new — something that's never been heard of before".

Literary influences

In an autobiographical sketch Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote:

The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills.

Elsewhere, Orwell strongly praised the works of Jack London, especially his book The Road. Orwell's investigation of poverty in The Road to Wigan Pier strongly resembles that of Jack London's The People of the Abyss, in which the American journalist disguises himself as an out-of-work sailor in order to investigate the lives of the poor in London.

In the essay "Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver's Travels" (1946) he wrote: "If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver's Travels among them."

Other writers admired by Orwell included Ralph Waldo Emerson, G. K. Chesterton, George Gissing, Graham Greene, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, Tobias Smollett, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Yevgeny Zamyatin.[38] He was both an admirer and a critic of Rudyard Kipling,[39] [40] praising Kipling as a gifted writer and a "good bad poet" whose work is "spurious" and "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting," but undeniably seductive and able to speak to certain aspects of reality more effectively than more enlightened authors.[41]

Literary criticism

Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens, "When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens's photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry — in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls."

George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.[42]

Rules for writers

In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell provides six rules for writers:[43]

Influence on the English language

Some of Nineteen Eighty-Fours lexicon has entered into the English language. The word 'Orwellian' refers specifically to this novel, when used about totalitarian countries or tendencies.

Variations of the slogan "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others", from Animal Farm, are sometimes used to satirise situations where equality exists in theory and rhetoric but not in practice with various idioms. For example, an allegation that rich people are treated more leniently by the courts despite legal equality before the law might be summarised as "all criminals are equal, but some are more equal than others". This appears to echo the phrase Primus inter pares - the Latin for "First amongst equals", which is usually applied to the head of a democratic state.

Although the origins of the term are debatable, Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war. He used it in an essay titled "You and the Atomic Bomb" on 19 October 1945 in Tribune, he wrote:

"We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham's theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications — this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of 'cold war' with its neighbours."

Personal life


Jacintha Buddicom's account Eric & Us provides an insight into the Blair's childhood.[44] She quoted his sister Avril that "he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person" and said herself of his friendship with the Buddicoms "I do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolfriend he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as 'CC'". Cyril Connolly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise.[45] 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 that was solely to enhance the school's prestige with parents. Jacintha Buddicom repudiated Orwell's schoolboy misery described in the essay stating that "he was a specially happy child".

Connolly remarked of him as a schoolboy "The remarkable thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself".[45] At Eton his former headmaster's son observed "He was extremely argumentative — about anything — and criticising the masters and criticising the other boys...We enjoyed arguing with him. He would generally win the arguments — or think he had anyhow."[46] Roger Mynors 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..." [47]

Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddicom recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orang-utang to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment.[5] At Eton he played tricks on his master in house, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty.[48] Gow, his tutor said he "made himself as big a nuisance as he could" and "was a very unattractive boy".[49] Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southwold for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor.[50] 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.[51]

Blair had an enduring interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies.[52] and Buddicom recalls his keen interest in ornithology. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog[5] or shooting down a jackdaw from the Eton roof to dissect it. His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives — again Buddicom recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southwold his sister Avril recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southwold[53] and Hayes.[54] His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature.


Buddicom 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 Venables reveals that he may have lost sympathy through an incident which was at best a clumsy seduction.[5]

Mabel Fierz, 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 Southwold and another girl in London. He was rather a womaniser, yet he was afraid he wasn't attractive."[55]

Brenda Salkield (Southwold) 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 I mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages."[55] His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past assignments or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches.[56]

When Orwell was in the sanitorium in Kent his wife's friend Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight "an awkward situation arose."[57] Jackson was to be the most critical of Orwell's marriage to Eileen O'Shaugnessy but their later correspondence hints a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Orwell's closeness to Brenda Salkeld. 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 Popham he wrote: 'I 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 real marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc.'[58], Similarly he suggested to Celia Kirwan that they had both been unfaithful.[59] There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage[60] [61] [62]

Orwell was very lonely after Eileen'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 Sonia Brownell accepted.

Political views

While Orwell liked to provoke argument by challenging the "status quo", he was also a deep traditionalist with a love of old English values. He criticised and satirised, from the inside, the various social milieu in which he found himself - provincial town life in A Clergyman's Daughter; middle class pretention in Keep the Aspidistra Flying; preparatory schools in Such Such were the Joys; the "atmosphere" of colonialism in Burmese Days, and Socialist groups in the Road to Wigan Pier. In his Adelphi days he described himself as a "Tory-anarchist".[63] [64]

The Road to Wigan Pier, published by the Left Book Club, gave Orwell's his biggest sales of a work to date and in Part 2 he stated his credentials by raising the class issue, describing his disillusionment as a colonial policeman and explaining his days on the road with tramps. In this work he states his idea of socialism as "a real Socialist is one who wishes - not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes - to see tyranny overthrown". However it was the Spanish Civil War that played the most important part in defining his socialism. He wrote to Cyril Connolly from Barcelona on 8 June 1937: "I have seen wonderful things and at last really believe in Socialism, which I never did before".[65] [66] Having witnessed the success of the anarcho-syndicalist communities, and the subsequent brutal suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists and other revolutionaries by the Soviet-backed Communists, Orwell returned from Catalonia a staunch anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labour Party.

In his 1938 essay, "Why I joined the Independent Labour Party", published in the ILP-affiliated New Leader, Orwell wrote "For some years past I have managed to make the capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against capitalism. But I do not delude myself that this state of affairs is going to last forever",[67] going on to add "the only régime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist régime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer - that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a Socialist party."[67] And towards the end of the essay, "I do not mean I have lost all faith in the Labour Party. My most earnest hope is that the Labour Party will win a clear majority in the next General Election."[68]

He was later to add, in "Why I Write" (1946), "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it."[69]

At the time, like most other left-wingers in the United Kingdom, he was still opposed to rearmament against Nazi Germany — but after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the outbreak of the Second World War, he changed his mind. He left the ILP over its pacifism and adopted a political position of "revolutionary patriotism". He supported the war effort but detected (wrongly as it turned out) a mood that would lead to a revolutionary socialist movement among the British people. "We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary," he wrote in Tribune, the Labour left's weekly, in December 1940. During the war, Orwell was highly critical of those in Britain who believed an Anglo-Soviet alliance would be the basis of a post-war world of peace and prosperity (a popular idea in many circles at the time). In 1942, Orwell commenting on the out-spoken pro-Soviet leaders in The Times written by E. H. Carr stated that: “all the appeasers, e.g. Professor E. H. Carr, have switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin”.[70]

In his reply, dated 15 November 1943, to a letter from the Duchess of Atholl inviting him to speak for the League of European Freedom, he stated that he was not in agreement with that body’s ultimate objectives. He admitted that what they said was "more truthful than the lying propaganda found in most of the press" but added that he could not "associate himself with an essentially Conservative body” that claimed to "defend democracy in Europe" but had "nothing to say about British imperialism". His closing paragraph stated "I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country."[71]

He joined the staff of Tribune as literary editor, and from then until his death was a left-wing (though hardly orthodox) Labour-supporting democratic socialist. He canvassed for the Labour Party in the 1945 general election and was broadly supportive of its actions in office, though he was sharply critical of its timidity on certain key questions and despised the pro-Soviet stance of many Labour left-wingers.

According to biographer John Newsinger, although Orwell "was always critical of the 1945-51 Labour government's moderation, his support for it began to pull him to the right politically. This did not lead him to embrace conservatism, imperialism or reaction, but to defend, albeit critically, Labour reformism."[72]

Newsinger also considers that "the other crucial dimension to Orwell's socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist--indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever."[24]

Between 1945 and 1947, together with A. J. Ayer and Bertrand Russell, he contributed a series of articles and essays to Polemic, a short-lived British "Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics" edited by the ex-Communist Humphrey Slater.[73] [74]

Although he was never a Trotskyist, he was strongly influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet regime and by the anarchists' emphasis on individual freedom. He wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier that 'I worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment always does more harm than the crime and the people can be trusted to behave decently if you will only let them alone.' In typical Orwellian style, he continues to deconstruct his own opinion as 'sentimental nonsense'. He continues 'it is always necessary to protect peaceful people from violence. In any state of society where crime can be profitable you have got to have a harsh criminal law and administer it ruthlessly'.

Orwell had little sympathy with Zionism and opposed the creation of the state of Israel. In 1945, Orwell wrote that "few English people realise that the Palestine issue is partly a colour issue and that an Indian nationalist, for example, would probably side with the Arabs".

While Orwell was concerned that the Palestinian Arabs be treated fairly, he was equally concerned with fairness to Jews in general: writing in the spring of 1945 a long essay titled "Antisemitism in Britain," for the "Contemporary Jewish Record." Antisemitism, Orwell warned, was "on the increase," and was "quite irrational and will not yield to arguments." He thought "the only useful approach" would be a psychological one, to discover "why" antisemites could "swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others."[75] In his magnum opus, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he showed the Party enlisting antisemitic passions in the Two Minute Hates for Goldstein, their archetypal traitor.

Orwell was also a proponent of a federal socialist Europe, a position outlined in his 1947 essay 'Toward European Unity', which first appeared in Partisan Review.

Orwell publicly defended P. G. Wodehouse against charges of being a Nazi sympathiser; a defence based on Wodehouse's lack of interest in and ignorance of politics.


The Special Branch in the UK, the police intelligence group, maintained a file on Orwell more than twenty years of his life. The dossier, published by Britain's National Archives, mentions that according to one investigator he had "advanced Communist views and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings". However, MI5, the intelligence department of the Home Office, developed the information to note that "It is evident from his recent writings — 'The Lion and the Unicorn' — and his contribution to Gollancz's symposium The Betrayal of the Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him."[76]

Social interactions

Orwell was noted for very close and enduring friendships with a few friends, but these were generally people with a similar background or with a similar level of literary ability. Ungregarious, he was out of place in a crowd and his discomfort was exacerbated when he was outside his own class. Though representing himself as a spokesman for the common man he often appeared out of place with real working people. His brother-in-law Humphrey Dakin, a "Hail fellow, well met" type, who took him to a local pub in Leeds, said that he was told by the landlord: "Don't bring that bugger in here again".[77] Adrian Fierz commented "He wasn't interested in racing or greyhounds or pub crawling or shove ha'penny. He just did not have much in common with people who did not share his intellectual interests".[78] Awkwardness attended many of his encounters with working class representatives as with Pollitt and McNair.[79] but his courtesy and good manners were often commented on. Jack Common observed on meeting him for the first time "Right away manners, and more than manners — breeding — showed through".[80]

In his tramping days, he did domestic work for a time. His extreme politeness was recalled by a member of the family he worked for; she declared that the family referred to him as "Laurel" after the silent film comedian.[81] With his ganging figure and awkwardness, Orwell's friends often saw him as a figure of fun. George Gorer commented "He was awfully likely to knock things off tables, trip over things. I mean, he was a gangling, physically badly co-ordinated young man. I think his feelings that even the inanimate world was against him..."[82] When he shared a flat with Heppenstall and Sayer, he was treated in a patronising manner by the younger men.[83] At the BBC, years later "everybody would pull his leg"[84] and Spender described him as having real entertainment value "like, as I say, watching a Charlie Chaplin movie".[85] A friend of Eileen's reminisced about her tolerance and humour, often at Orwell's expense.[61]

Orwell has often been accused of having had an authoritarian streak. In Burma, he struck out at a Burmese boy who while "fooling around" with his friends "accidentally bumped into him" at a station so that he "fell heavily" down some stairs.[86] In an interview in the 1990's, one of his former pupils recalled being beaten so hard he could not sit down for a week.[87] When sharing a flat, Heppenstall came home late one night in an advanced stage of loud inebriation, and when Orwell told him to pipe down, he took a swing at him. Orwell responded by beating him up with a shooting stick, and the following morning told him to move out. Friendly relations were restored, but Heppenstall wrote a dramatic account of the incident.[88]

However, Orwell related well to young people. The pupil he beat considered him the best of teachers, and the young recruits in Barcelona tried to drink him under the table — though without success. His nephew recalled Uncle Eric laughing louder than anyone in the cinema at a Charlie Chaplin film.[60]

In the wake of his most famous works, he attracted many uncritical hangers-on, but many others who sought him found him aloof and even dull. With his soft voice, he was sometimes shouted down or excluded from discussions.[89] At this time, he was severely ill; it was wartime or the austerity period after it; during the war his wife suffered from depression; and after her death he was lonely and unhappy. In addition to that, he always lived frugally and seemed unable to care for himself properly. As a result of all this, people found his circumstances bleak.[90] Some, like Michael Ayrton, called him "Gloomy George", but others developed the idea that he was a "secular saint".


Orwell was a heavy smoker, rolling his own cigarettes from strong shag tobacco, in spite of his bronchial condition, and he even smoked in sanatoriums and hospitals, which was permitted in those days. He undermined his health with a penchant for the rugged life which often put him in cold and damp situations both in the long term as in Catalonia and Jura, and short term, for example in motorcycling in the rain and a shipwreck of his own creation. His love of strong tea was legendary — he had Fortnum & Mason's tea brought to him in Catalonia[91] and in 1946 published "A Nice Cup of Tea" on how to make it. He appreciated English beer, taken regularly and moderately, and despised drinkers of lager.[92] Not being particular about food, he enjoyed the wartime "Victory Pie"[93] extolled canteen food at the BBC[84] and once ate the cat's dinner by mistake.[94] However he preferred traditional English dishes such as roast beef and kippers[95] and reports of his Islington days refer to the cosy afternoon tea table.

His dress sense was unpredictable and usually casual.[96] In Southwold he had the best cloth from the local tailor,[97] but was equally happy in his tramping outfit. His attire in the Spanish Civil War, along with his size 12 boots was a source of amusement.[98] [99] David Astor described him as looking like a prep school master,[100] while according to the Special Branch dossier, Orwell's tendency of clothing himself "in Bohemian fashion" revealed that the author was "a Communist".[101]

Orwell's confusing approach to matters of social decorum — on the one hand expecting a working class guest to dress for dinner,[102] and on the other hand slurping tea out of a saucer at the BBC canteen[103] — helped stoke his reputation as an English eccentric.


Muggeridge, reading Orwell's obituaries, noted "how the legend of a human being is created".[104] Fyvel introduced the term "saint" [105] and wrote in such terms[106] Orwell's will requested that no biography of him be written, and his wife Sonia Orwell repelled every attempt by those who tried to persuade her to let them write about him. Various recollections and interpretations were published in the 1950s and 1960s but Sonia saw the 1968 Collected Works[107] as the record of his life. She did appoint Muggeridge as official biographer, but later biographers have seen this as deliberate spoiling as Muggeridge eventually gave up the work[108] In 1973 American authors Stansky and Williams[109] produced an unauthorised account of his early years which inevitably lacked Sonia Orwell's input. She then commissioned Bernard Crick, a left-wing professor of politics at London University to complete a biography and asked all Orwell's friends to co-operate.[110] Crick collated a considerable amount of material in his work which was published in 1980,[111] but his questioning of the literal truth of Orwell's first-person writings led to conflict with Sonia who tried unsuccessfully to suppress the book. Crick concentrated on the facts of Orwell's life rather than his character, and as a professor of politics presented primarily a political perspective on Orwell's life and work.[112]

After Sonia Orwell's death many more works were produced in the 1980s with 1984 being a particularly fruitful year for Orwelliana. These included collections of reminiscences by Coppard and Crick[113] and Stephen Wadhams.[55]

In 1991 a biography was produced by Michael Shelden, an American Professor of Literature.[114] Shelden was more concerned with the literary nature of Orwell’s work seeking explanations for Orwell's character and treating his first person writings as autobiographical. Shelden introduced several new pieces of information correcting some of the errors and omissions in Crick's earlier work.[115] Shelden attributed to Orwell an obsessive belief in his failure and inadequacy.

Peter Davison's production of the Complete Works of George Orwell, completed in 2000[116] put most of the Orwell Archive in the public domain. Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific American biographer, was first to take advantage of this and produced a work[117] that was more willing to investigate the darker side of Orwell and question the saintly image.[118]

In 2003, the centenary of Orwell's birth resulted in the two most up-to-date biographies by Gordon Bowker[119] and D. J. Taylor, both academics and writers in the United Kingdom. Taylor notes the stage management which surrounds much of Orwell's behaviour,[120] and Bowker highlights the essential sense of decency which he considers to have been Orwell' s main driver.[121] [122]

Criticism of Orwell and his work

While Koestler mentioned Orwell's "uncompromising intellectual honesty [which] made him appear almost inhuman at times",[123] in the words of Ben Wattenberg, "Orwell’s writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it."[124] Like many writers whose extensive work includes critical essays, polemics, and fiction that brings into question certain political views, Orwell was and is the subject of controversy. It seems difficult to find purely neutral appraisals of him and his work.

Orwell has often been quoted out of context, or simply misquoted to support the beliefs or further the interests of one ‘side’ or the other. Thus, all sorts of people with differing viewpoints have been able to quote Orwell as backing for their own cause. An explanation for that would be that he constantly assessed and re-assessed his own viewpoints and changed them over time. So, quoting from one work, a contradiction might easily be found in a later work.

However, as historian John Rodden pointed out: "John Podhoretz did claim that if Orwell were alive today, he’d be standing with the neo-conservatives and against the Left. And the question arises, to what extent can you even begin to predict the political positions of somebody who’s been dead three decades and more by that time?"[124]

In Orwell's Victory, Christopher Hitchens argues "In answer to the accusation of inconsistency Orwell as a writer was forever taking his own temperature. In other words, here was someone who never stopped testing and adjusting his intelligence".[125]

His own words often don't help - he enjoyed being provocative and controversial, he wrote for effect, he had the English public schoolboy's ironical sense of humour, he enjoyed winding people up and writing cruel satirical pieces, he was extremely self-deprecating - there are no easy answers. He was an extreme individual who defied categorisation.

John Rodden points out the "undeniable conservative features in the Orwell physiognomy" and remarks on how "to some extent Orwell facilitated the kinds of uses and abuses by the Right that his name has been put to. In other ways there has been the politics of selective quotation."[124]

Rodden refers to the essay “Why I Write”, in which Orwell refers to the Spanish Civil War as being his "watershed political experience". “The Spanish War and other events in 1936-37, turned the scale. Thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since nineteen 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism as I understand it.” And the word “for” is italicized.[124] Rodden goes on to explain how, during the McCarthy era, the introduction to the Signet edition of Animal Farm, which sold more than twenty million copies, makes use of "the politics of ellipsis":[124] “If the book itself, Animal Farm, had left any doubt of the matter, Orwell dispelled it in his essay “Why I Write”: 'Every line of serious work that I’ve written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism... dot, dot, dot, dot,.' “For Democratic Socialism” is vaporized, just like Winston Smith did it at the Ministry of Truth, and that’s very much what happened beginning of the McCarthy era and just continued, Orwell being selectively quoted."[124]

Examples of Orwell's provocative statements, of which there are many, include his review of Mein Kampf (New English Weekly, 21 March 1940):

I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power - till then, like everyone, I had been deceived into thinking he did not matter - I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity.

He goes on, referring to the photograph of Hitler in the book: is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself.
From The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 3. Penguin

Another example of the provocative Orwell, from his 1941 essay "The Lion and the Unicorn", was the claim that "The mentality of the English left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half a dozen weekly and monthly papers."[126]

Likewise, while the John Birch Society was condemning 1984 for viewing Communism in a positive light[127] the Left was criticising it for attacking Socialism. In a reply dated 16 June 1949 (seven months before he died), and of which excerpts were reproduced in Life (25 July 1949) and the New York Times Book Review (31 July 1949), to a letter from Francis A. Henson of the United Automobile Workers, Orwell stated

My recent novel [''1984''] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter) but as a show-up of the perversions ... which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. ...The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere.[128]

Other accusations, such as those of antisemitism, are not reflected in the large body of work describing his life and works. Public figures such as Gollancz, Warburg, Kimche and Fyvel, all close Jewish friends of his, would certainly not agree with the suggestion that he was antisemitic, while any close reading of his works would indeed suggest the opposite.

His famous essay "Notes on Nationalism", written in May 1945 and published in the first issue of Polemic (October 1945) contains the following (in chronological order):

Indifference to Reality. [...] For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. [...] Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness.

(On Positive Nationalism) Zionism. [...] All English people of goodwill are also pro-Jew in the sense of disapproving of Nazi persecution...

(On Negative Nationalism) Antisemitism. There is little evidence about this at present, because the Nazi persecutions have made it necessary for any thinking person to side with the Jews against their oppressors...

Orwell's work has taken a prominent place in the school literature curriculum with Animal Farm often being seen as an examination topic for early the early teens (GCSE in the UK), and Nineteen Eighty-Four as a topic for pre university examinations (A Levels in the UK). Alan Brown noted that this brings to the forefront questions about the political content of teaching practices. Study aids, in particular with potted biographies have helped propagate the Orwell myth so that as an embodiment of human values he is presented as a "trustworthy guide", while examination questions sometimes suggest a "right ways of answering" in line with the myth.[129]

As recently as 1981, a Baptist minister in Jackson County, Florida challenged the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four suitability as proper reading for young Americans, arguing it contained pro-Communist, anti-Semitic, and sexually explicit material.[127]

In short, according to historian Piers Brendon, "Orwell was the saint of common decency who would in earlier days, said his BBC boss Rushbrook Williams, 'have been either canonised - or burnt at the stake'.[130]



Books based on personal experiences

While the substance of many of Orwell's novels, particularly Burmese Days, is drawn from his personal experiences, the following are works presented as narrative documentaries, rather than being fictionalised.


See main article: Essays of George Orwell. (A longer, alphabetical list)


Sources: George Orwell's Poems[131], and The Orwell Prize, Works[132]

About George Orwell

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: George Orwell. 2008-11-07. UCL Orwell Archives.
  2. "Still the Moon Under Water"
  3. Michael O'Connor (2003). Review of Gordon Bowker's "Inside George Orwell".
  4. Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980. Several earlier biographers suggested that Mrs Blair moved to England in 1907 based on information given by Avril Blair reminiscing of a time before she was born. The evidence to the contrary is the diary of Ida Blair for 1905 and a photograph of Eric aged 3 in an English suburban garden. The earlier date also coincides with a difficult posting for Blair senior, and Marjorie (6) needing an English education.
  5. Jacintha Buddicom Eric and Us Frewin 1974.
  6. Letters home September 1914 quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life".
  7. Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard 2 October 1914
  8. Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard 21 July 1916
  9. Stephen Runciman in Stephen Wadhams' Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  10. Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorised Biography William Heinemann 1991
  11. Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life, quote from interview with Gow
  12. Ruth Pitter BBC Overseas Service broadcast, 3 January 1956
  13. D J Taylor Orwell: The Life Chatto & Windus 2003
  14. R. S. Peters A Boy's View of George Orwell Psychology and Ethical Development Allen & Unwin 1974
  15. Stella Judt I once met George Orwell in I once Met 1996
  16. Bernard Crick Interview with Geoffrey Stevens in George Orwell: A Life
  17. Avril Dunn My Brother George Orwell Twentieth Century 1961
  18. Correspondence in Collected Essays Journalism and Letters Secker & Warburg 1968
  19. Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.)Orwell: An Age Like This, letters 31 and 33 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World)
  20. The conventional view that this was a specific commission with a £500 advance is based on a recollection by George Gorer. However Taylor argues that Orwell's subsequent circumstances showed no indication of such largesse, Gollancz was not a person to part with such a sum on speculation, and Gollancz took little proprietorial interest in progress — D. J. Taylor Orwell: The Life Chatto & Windus 2003
  21. "Notes on the Spanish Militia" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.352 (Penguin)
  22. John McNair — Interview with Ian Angus UCL 1964
  23. Letter to Eileen Blair April 1937 in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.296 (Penguin)
  24. Newsinger, John "Orwell and the Spanish Revolution" International Socialism Journal Issue 62 Spring 1994
  25. "Harry Milton - The Man Who Saved Orwell"
  26. The author states that evidence discovered at the National Historical Archives in Madrid in 1989 of a security police report to the Tribunal for Espionage and High Treason described 'Eric Blair and his wife Eileen Blair, as 'known Trotskyists' and as 'linking agents of the ILP and the POUM'. Newsinger goes on to state that given Orwell's precarious health, "there can be little doubt that if he had been arrested he would have died in prison."
  27. Malcolm Muggeridge recalls that when he asked Orwell about the usefulness of such broadcasts, he replied "Perhaps not, he said, somewhat crestfallen. He added, more cheerfully, that anyway, no one could pick up the broadcasts except on short-wave sets which cost about the equivalent of an Indian laborer's earnings over 10 years. At this thought he began to chuckle: a dry, vibrant, somehow rusty chuckle, very characteristic and very endearing." Malcolm Muggeridge: “Introduction”Published: Time Incorporation Book Division, USA, New York. — 1962. Burmese Days
  28. Orwell, G. & Davison, P. I Have Tried to Tell the Truth Secker & Warburg, 1999 ISBN 0436203707, 9780436203701
  29. Timothy Garton Ash: "Orwell's List" in "The New York Review of Books", Number 14, 25 September 2003
  30. Web site: The Orwell Prize Life and Work - Exclusive Access to the Orwell Archive. 2008-12-23.
  31. Barnhill
  32. David Holbrook in Stephen Wadham's Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  33. The Guardian John Ezard Blair's babe Did love turn Orwell into a government stooge? Saturday 21 June 2003
  34. News: George Orwell's Widow; Edited Husband's Works. London, Friday, 12 December (Associated Press) Sonia Orwell, widow of the writer George Orwell, died here yesterday, The Times of London reported today. The newspaper gave no details.. Associated Press. 12 December 1980, Friday. 2007-07-21.
  35. News: George Orwell, Author, 46, Dead. British Writer, Acclaimed for His '1984' and 'Animal Farm,' is Victim of Tuberculosis. Two Novels Popular Here Distaste for Imperialism. London, 21 January 1950. George Orwell, noted British novelist, died of tuberculosis in a hospital here today at the age of 46.. New York Times. 22 January 1950, Sunday. 2007-07-21.
  36. Andrew Anthony, 'Review: George Orwell's Books', The Observer, 11 May 2003, Observer Review Pages, Pg. 1.
  37. [Irving Howe]
  38. Letter to Gleb Struve, 17 February 1944, Orwell: Essays, Journalism and Letters Vol 3, ed Sonia Brownell and Ian Angus
  39. Web site: Malcolm Muggeridge: Introduction. 2008-12-23.
  40. Web site: Does Orwell Matter?. 2008-12-23.
  41. Web site: George Orwell: Rudyard Kipling. 2008-12-23.
  42. George Woodcock Introduction to Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  43. Web site: George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946. 2008-12-23.
  44. Jacintha Buddicom Eric & Us Frewin 1974.
  45. Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise, 1938 ISBN 0-233-97936-0
  46. John Wilkes in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell" Penguin Books 1984.
  47. Roger Mynors in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984.
  48. Christopher Hollis A Study of George Orwell
  49. Interview with Bernard Crick in George Orwell: A life
  50. Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  51. Collected Essays Journalism and Letters Secker & Warburg 1968
  52. Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life Secker & Warburg 1980
  53. R. S. Peters A Boy's View of George Orwell in Psychology and Ethical Development Allen & Unwin 1974
  54. Geoffrey Stevens in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin 1984
  55. Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  56. Correspondence in Collected Essays Journalism and Letters, Secker & Warburg 1968
  57. Peter Davison ed. George Orwell: Complete Works XI 336
  58. George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.480
  59. Celia Goodman interview with Shelden June 1989 in Michael Shelden Orwell:The Authorised Biography
  60. Henry Dakin in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  61. Patrica Donahue in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  62. Michael Meyer Not Prince Hamlet: Literary and Theatrcal Memoirs 1989
  63. Richard Rees, Orwell: Fugitive from the Camp of Victory, Secker & Warburg 1961
  64. Rayner Heppenstall, Four Absentees, Barrie and Rockcliff 1960
  65. Cyril Connolly George Orwell 3 in The Evening Colonnade David Bruce and Watson 1973
  66. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.301 (Penguin)
  67. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.373 (Penguin)
  68. "Why I Write" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.374 (Penguin)
  69. "Why I Write" in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.23 (Penguin)
  70. Web site: Collini. Stefan. E. H. Carr: historian of the future. Times. 5 March 2008. 2008-11-09.
  71. Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.). The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose (1945-1950) (Penguin)
  72. John Newsinger in Socialist Review Issue 276 July/August 2003
  73. David Buckman, Art-Historical Notes: "Where are the Hirsts of the 1930s now?", The Independent, 13 Nov 1998
  74. Stefan Collini, Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain, Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 9780199291052
  75. As I Please: 1943 - 1945, pp 332 - 341.
  76. News: MI5 confused by Orwell's politics. Staff. 4 September 2007. BBC News. BBC. 22 November 2008.
  77. Ian Angus Interview 23 - 25 April 1965 quoted in Stansky and Abrahams The Unknown George Orwell
  78. Adrian Fierz in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell
  79. John McNair George Orwell: The Man I knew MA Thesis — Newcastle University Library 1965 quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life
  80. Jack Common Collection Newcastle University Library quoted in Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life
  81. Stella Judt I once met George Orwell in I once Met 1996
  82. George Gorer - recorded for Melvyn Bragg BBC Omnibus production The Road to the Left 1970
  83. Rayner Heppenstall Four Absentees in Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  84. Sunday Wilshin in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  85. Stephen Spender in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  86. Maung Htin Aung George Orwell and Burma in Miriam Goss The World of George Orwell
  87. Geoffrey Stevens, Bernard Crick Interview in George Orwell: A Life
  88. Heppenstall "The Shooting Stick Twentieth Century April 1955
  89. Michael Meyer Not Prince Hamlet: Literary and Theatrical Memoirs Secker and Warburg 1989
  90. T. R. Fyval George Orwell: A Personal Memoir 1982
  91. D J Taylor Orwell: The Life Chatto & Windus 2003
  92. Lettice Cooper in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  93. Julian Symonds in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  94. Patricia Donahue in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  95. George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.502
  96. George Orwell: A Life, Bernard Crick, p.504
  97. Jack Denny in Stephen Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  98. Bob Edwards in Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  99. Jennie Lee in Peter Davison Complete Works XI 5
  100. David Astor Interview in Michael Shelden
  101. Web site: Watching Orwell - International Herald Tribune. 2008-12-23.
  102. Jack Braithwaite in Wadhams Remembering Orwell Penguin Books 1984
  103. John Morris Some are more equal than others Penguin New Writing No. 40 1950
  104. Malcolm Muggeridge Journals 1948 - 50
  105. T R Fyvel A Writer's Life World Review June 1950
  106. T. R. Fyvel, A Case for George Orwell?, Twentieth Century, September 1956, pp.257 - 8
  107. Collected Essays Journalism and Letters Secker & Warburg 1968
  108. D. J. Taylor Orwell: The Life. Henry Holt and Company. 2003. ISBN 0-8050-7473-2
  109. Peter Stansky and William Abrahams The Unknown Orwell Constable 1972
  110. Gordon Bowker - Orwell and the biographers in John Rodden The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell Cambridge University Press 2007
  111. Bernard Crick George Orwell: A Life. Penguin. 1982. ISBN 0-14-005856-7
  112. Web site: VQR » Wintry Conscience. 2008-12-23.
  113. Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick Orwell Remembered 1984
  114. Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorized Biography. HarperCollins. 1991. ISBN 0-06-016709-2.
  115. Gordon Bowker - Orwell and the biographers in John Rodden The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell Cambridge University Press 2007
  116. Peter Davison The Complete Works of George Orwell Random House, ISBN 0151351015
  117. Jeffrey Meyers Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated, 2001ISBN 0393322637
  118. Gordon Bowker - Orwell and the biographers in John Rodden The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell Cambridge University Press 2007
  119. Web site: The Orwell Prize Gordon Bowker: The Biography Orwell Never Wrote (essay). 2008-12-23.
  120. D. J. Taylor Orwell: The Life. Henry Holt and Company. 2003. ISBN 0-8050-7473-2
  121. Gordon Bowker George Orwell Little, Brown 2003
  122. Observer review: Orwell by DJ Taylor and George Orwell by Gordon Bowker Observer on Sunday 1 June 2003
  123. Orwell Today
  124. "Orwell’s Century" Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. PBS
  125. Editorial review of Orwell's Victory by Christopher Hitchens
  126. Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.). The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 2: My Country Right or Left (1940-1943) (Penguin)
  127. A Censorship History - 1984
  128. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4 - In Front of Your Nose 1945-1950 p.546 (Penguin)
  129. Alan Brown Examining Orwell: Political and Literary Values in Education in Christopher Norris Inside the Myth Orwell:Views from the Left Lawrence and Wishart 1984
  130. "The saint of common decency" by Piers Brendon The Guardian, 7 June 2003
  131. Charles' George Orwell Links, Essays & Journalism Section.
  132. The Orwell Prize, Works