George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), 1903 - 1950

portrait of George Orwell
(ca. 1940)
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Born: 25 June 1903, Motihari, Bihar, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: 21 January 1950, Camden, London, England, UK

Born Eric Arthur Blair, his father was in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. A year later Eric left for England with his sisters and mother and other than one visit did not see his father again until 1912. He did well at his first school, earning himself a scholarship to St Cyprian's School at Eastbourne, Sussex. On leaving there he had scholarships to both Wellington College and Eton College, he went to Wellington for a term before a place as King's Scholar opened up for him at Eton. There he lost interest in school and had only fair grades so no university scholarships were forthcoming. He joined the Indian Imperial Police and spent five years in Burma and India before contracting Dengue fever in 1927, returning to England to convalesce. He chose to resign that position and take up writing, moving first to London for the publishing contacts and then to Paris for the low cost of living. After two years he wrote Down and Out in Paris and London, to avoid embarrassing his family he used the name George Orwell. When the Spanish Civil War broke out he volunteered on the Republican side, he was shot in the neck by a sniper, the bullet just missed an artery and he returned to England and journalism. He wrote a staggering number of excellent book reviews and quite a bit of commentary in leftist publications. When World War II broke out he was ruled unfit for any military service but spent two years at the BBC writing propaganda and started writing Animal Farm. As the Soviet Union was an ally he was unable to get the book published until the war ended. In 1949 he published 1984, but by the time he finished it he was suffering greatly from tuberculosis. For the last four years of his life he sought refuge from the press of London's literary swirl on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides, writing most of 1984 there. His health took him to a sanatorium in the Cotswolds and in September of 1949 he was taken to University College Hospital at London. He married his second wife in his hospital room in October, an artery in his lungs burst in January.

Biography from Wikipedia and George-Orwell.org

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