George Orwell

Born in India, George Orwell, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950), was an English novelist and one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century despite his small number of publications. As stated this documentary states, despite Orwell’s requests that there should be no biographies, countless writers tried to tell his story. 

In Orwell’s words, “what he had always most wanted to do was to make political writing into an art”. His object was not to promote a certain point of view, but to arrive at the truth; exposing the hypocrisy and injustice prevalent in society”. For that, he devoted his life to the understanding of inequalities and injustices. After studying at Eton, he attended the British Burmese civil service, where he definitely broke with the British Imperial Ideology by resigning in 1927. Later he would write an essay called Shooting the Elephant where he would said that “Theoretically and secretly of course, he was always for the Burmese and all against the oppressors, the British. As for the job he was doing he hated it more bitterly than he could perhaps make clear”.

Two years later, in the mid of the Great Depression, Orwell undertook another life changing experience in Wigan, and industrial town ravaged by unemployment and misery. His observations let to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier where he described the real life conditions of the English working classes during the financial crash. Despite his close relationship with the Communist Party, in 1936, after volunteering to fight against Franco in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell started to despise the extreme left wing. He was shot in the neck in 1937 and left Spain after writing the book Homage to Catalonia telling his experiences and criticising the inefficiency of the Communist Party.

He returned to England where he would die in 1950 at the age of 47, after writing his most celebrated pieces: Animal Farm in 1945, a satire novel telling the story of revolutions which go wrong, based primarily on the Russian revolution and on Stalin’s betrayal of the Bolshevik cause; and Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopian novel about the dangers of totalitarian rule, and immortalized by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”.

You can discover more about him in the 2003 BBC documentary “George Orwell – A Life in Pictures” and in the George Orwell’s website.

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