Orwell, George, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), British writer, whose brilliant reporting and political conscience fashioned an impassioned picture of his life and times.
Orwell was born in Motihari, India, and was educated in England at Eton College. He served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (now known as Myanmar) from 1922 to 1927, when he returned to England. In poor health, and striving to become a writer, he lived for several years in poverty, first in Paris and then in London. Out of this experience came his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), an account of the sordid conditions of the homeless poor. Burmese Days (1934), an indictment of imperialism, is also largely autobiographical. In 1936 Orwell joined the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The description of his experiences, in Homage to Catalonia (1938), forms one of the most moving accounts of this war ever written. Also belonging to this period is The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a harrowing report on the conditions of unemployed coal miners in the north of England.
When Orwell resigned from his position in Burma, he resolved to speak out against the domination of any person over another. His condemnation of totalitarian society is expressed in the brilliantly witty allegorical fable Animal Farm (1945) and in the satirical novel Nineteen Eighty-four (1949). The latter presents a terrifying picture of life under the constant surveillance of “Big Brother.”
Among Orwell’s other writings, all basically autobiographical, are the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936); Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (1950), considered models of expository prose; and Such, Such Were the Joys (1953), recalling the hardships of his school days. The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell was published in four volumes in 1968.