George Orwell





6/25/1903 , Motihari, Bengal, British India



Birth Name

Eric Arthur Blair




Eric Blair (the real name of George Orwell) was born in Bengal, the son of Richard Walmesley Blair, an agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service, himself the son of a British officer in the Indian Army. Eric Blair's mother, Ida Mabel Limouzin, was the daughter of a French tradesman and almost twenty years younger than Richard Blair. Eric had an older sister, Marjorie, born in 1898, and a younger sister, Avril, born in 1908.

Ida Blair returned to England with her children in 1904 and settled at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, while Richard Blair stayed in India, with periods of home leave, finally retiring from the Indian Civil Service in 1912.

Eric went to a number of schools in England: Sunnylands, Henley; St Cyprian's Preparatory School at Eastbourne in Sussex, where he was miserable; Wellington College, for one term; Eton, where he was a King's Scholar from 1917 to 1921; and finally a 'crammer' at Southwold, Suffolk (where the Blair family had recently moved) for six months in 1922, to prepare for the India Office examinations.

From 1922 to 1927, Blair served at Myaungma, Burma, as an Assistant Superintendent in the Indian Imperial Police. In Burma, he drank in the club, caught dengue fever, slept with Burmese girls, shot an elephant, studied the local languages, and so forth. However, wearying of serving the Empire on the Irawaddy River, Blair resigned from this post in late 1927 while on leave in England and took rooms in Notting Hill, London. From 1928 to 1929 he lived in Paris, trying to write and also washing dishes at the Crillon Hotel. He went down with pneumonia and was in a Paris hospital for fourteen days in March, 1929. From 1930 to 1931 he took to the life of a tramp in London and the surrounding counties, returning from time to time to his family home in Southwold, and beginning to write Down and Out in Paris and London. Two essays, The Spike and The Hanging were published under his own name in Adelphi magazine. In September, 1931, he went hop-picking in Kent. Next, from 1932 to 1933, Blair got a teaching job at The Hawthorns, a private school in Hayes, Middlesex, then from 1933 to 1934 a better job at Frays College, Uxbridge. In early 1932 a literary agent, Leonard Moore, took him on as a client, and Down and Out in Paris and London was published by Victor Gollancz in 1933, under the name of George Orwell.

In 1933, he was back in hospital with pneumonia, but again recovered. After leaving Frays College in 1934, he spent ten months at home in Southwold, and wrote Burmese Days, which was published in the United States in October. He then rented a room in Pond Street, Hampstead, London, and worked as a part-time shop assistant in 'Booklover's Corner', Hampstead. A Clergyman's Daughter was published in March, 1935. About that time, at the age of thirty-two, he first met Eileen O'Shaughnessy, two years younger than him, who had read English Literature at Oxford and Psychology at University College, London, and who owned a typing agency. The early months of that year (at the height of the Depression) were spent in Lancashire and Yorkshire, writing about working class life and unemployment. Keep the Aspidistra Flying appeared in June, and Orwell married Eileen O'Shaughnessy on June 9th.

In late 1936, Orwell headed for Spain to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, where from January to June, 1937, he served on the Aragon front as a corporal in the militia of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification. He was wounded in the throat by a bullet in street fighting in Barcelona and was given an honorable discharge from the militia and returned to England. The Road to Wigan Pier was published while was away at the war.

In March, 1938, Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage of one lung and was back in hospital for six months, at a tuberculosis clinic in Kent. Homage to Catalonia, based on his Spanish Civil War experiences, was published in April, 1938, and he travelled to Morocco for his health from September 1938 to March, 1939. Coming Up for Air was published in June.

War broke out in Europe in September, 1939, and Orwell moved to London in May, 1940, joining the Home Guard. In 1941, he joined the BBC as a radio producer in the Empire Department, in charge of broadcasting to India and South East Asia.

In 1944, Orwell and Eileen adopted a one-month old baby, whom they called Richard Horatio Blair.

After the Normandy landings, Orwell went to France and then on to Germany as a war correspondent for The Observer newspaper. In late March, 1945, while he was away, Eileen died while under anaesthetic for a minor operation. Returning to England, Orwell covered the post-war election campaign for The Observer from June to July, 1945. Animal Farm was published in August. In 1946, he left London with his son and a nurse to live at Barnhill, a run-down farmhouse he had rented on the island of Jura in the Hebrides, and began Nineteen Eighty-Four. He was increasingly ill in Scotland, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the left lung at Christmas, 1947, entering a Glasgow hospital. In July, 1948, he returned to Jura, completing Nineteen Eighty-Four by the end of the year.