George Orwell was born in 1903 as Eric Arthur Blair to English parents living in India but when he was 1 year old the family returned to England and settled there.
As a child he dreamed of writing a book in the style of HG Wells A Modern Utopia and whilst still at college produced the college magazine. Instead of attending University (the family couldn’t afford it) he returned to India as part of the Imperial Police and on a trip back home to England after suffering an illness he decided to quit the police and become a writer.
But it wasn’t until he visited his aunt in Paris and received her financial support that he began to write novels. On his return to England he began research into his a memoir entitled Down and Out in Paris and London, and changed his name for publication so that it wouldn’t embarrass his family.
The publication of Animal Farm in 1945 plunged Orwell into worldwide success and followed up by Nineteen Eighty Four in 1949 (which has sold over 25million copies to date) cemented his place amongst the great writers of the 20th century.
While he was alive, Orwell was best known for his essays and journalism. He died at the age of 46 having suffered from reoccurring symptoms of Tuberculosis (which troubled him for several years) leaving behind his own adjective “Orwellian”.
My Favourite George Orwell quotes:
“Rules on Writing – Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
“The best books…are those that tell you what you know already.”
“Good writing is like a windowpane.”
“For a creative writer possession of the ‘truth’ is less important than emotional sincerity.”
George Orwell’s Essay – Politics and the English Language
The first part of a documentary on Orwell.
Orwell went to great lengths to research his project Down and Out in Paris and London, to the point where he explored the slums of London, even staying the night in a common lodging house. You often hear of other authors who will go to great lengths to research their books. Personally, I haven’t, but what lengths have you gone to for research?