In the course of writing author biographies, one of the things that never fails to make me laugh is how awful many of them did in school. George Orwell was certainly not an exception to this odd standard, despite the brilliant the work he would later go on to produce. There are few novels that have stood the test of time, both politically and socially, as both 1984 and Animal Farm and for such reasons, Orwell’s name is known throughout the world.

George Orwell was born under the name Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal, India in 1903. His father worked as a civil servant for the British consulate. The Blair family moved from colonial India back to England when Eric was just a young boy and he remained there until after his lackluster academic career was over. Like many notable authors, Blair/Orwell began writing at a very young age but despite the quality of his work, he was not immediately able to make a living from his passion. Unable to attend more college because of his lack of winning scholarships, Orwell moved back to India and secured a job working as an administrator for the Indian Imperial Police. Orwell worked this job for only a few years as he began to notice the inequities inherent to colonial rule.

Returning to England, Orwell moved from job to job before finally deciding he wanted to write professionally. He took his penname “George Orwell” and began to write his first novels including Out in Paris and London and Burmese Days.  It was during this phase of his life that he met and married a woman named Eileen O’Shaugnessy and his socialist views began to solidify in the wake of several worldwide events. After realizing his political views, Orwell left for Spain where he fought with the United Workers Marxist Party milita. Here he realized that he did not concur completely with the Russian brand of communism, but rather favored the English variety of socialism. Shortly after this experience, he served for the British in World War II as a correspondent and it was after this that he wrote Animal Farm. Shortly after, he released 1984 which finally gave him the critical and even commercial success her was looking for. Unfortunately, the majority of the recognition came too late with his death (from tuberculosis) in 1950.

Other articles and essays in the Literature Archives related to this topic include: Social Stratification and Class in Animal Farm   •   The Role of Media in Society in 1984 by George Orwell  •     Utopias and Dystopias : AComparison of Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm