George Orwell "1984"

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George Orwell "1984"

George Orwell was born on June the 25th, 1903, as Eric Arthur Blair, in Motihari, Bihar, Bengal Presidency, British India. He became an author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense, revolutionary opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism.

His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a wealthy country gentleman, his grandfather, Thomas Blair, was a clergyman, his father, Richard Blair, worked in the "Opium Department" of the Indian Civil Service. His mother was Ida Mabel Blair and besides Eric she had two girls, Marjorie and Avril. In 1905, when Eric was one year old, Ida took her childen to England, and apart from a few brief visits children did not see their father again for the netxt seven years.

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 recommended St Cyprian's School in Sussex. The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win the scholarship. While at the school Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard, the local newspaper, 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). He had a romantic idea about the East 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. 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, and he was posted to the frontier outpost of Myaungmya in the Irrawaddy Delta at the beginning of 1924. When he was posted 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. 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.

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. 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 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. Meanwhile, Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with "A Hanging" appearing in August 1931. 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.

In the summer Blair finished at Hawthornes to take up a teaching job at Frays College, at Uxbridge, West London. 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.

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.

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December, but, when he got to the front, a sniper's bullet caught him in the throat. Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. 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. Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O'Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. There were thoughts of going to India to work on a local newspaper there, but by March 1938 Orwell's health had deteriorated.

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 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. In the begining of 1943., the Orwells spent some time in the North East dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio. It was while they were there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. 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".

Some years later, after "a road full of bumps", Orwell courted Sonia Brownell a second time during the summer, and they announced their marriage in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted; Orwell's health was in decline again by Christmas. Early on the morning of 21 January 1950, an artery burst in his lungs, killing him at age 46.




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