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Facts About George Orwell You May Not Know

Samarpita Choudhury Mar 16, 2020
Just as a film has got behind-the-scene accounts to tell to its viewers about the actors, so are many unheard stories about the most successful writers, whose books are always a must-have. One such writer is George Orwell. Here are some interesting facts about him.

The Orwell lingo...

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
―from Politics and the English Language
George Orwell
Writing is a powerful medium of self-expression; the expression which is influenced by the events that take place in the vicinity, and also the personal accounts of life. A writer who expresses in brilliance, the nuances of social events, perhaps earns the most social acclaim, and leaves an indelible mark on the pages of history which we flip in fondness.
This would tour through the life and works of one of the most celebrated writers, who has caused everyone to think and ponder about society and the myriad twists and turns it is laden with.
George Orwell is not a name which goes unnoticed. Hence, we shall now broaden our horizon and learn more about him and his works, which caused a stir, a powerful one, in most opinions. Let's begin with knowing about his life and early days, prior to his establishment as a noted author.

Interesting Facts About Orwell

* Before becoming George Orwell, Eric Arthur Blair was born in Bengal, India, during the British rule, way back in 1903.

* Later in his life, he became famous and popular as George Orwell, who wrote enormously about the social stigmas and rigid structures that paralyzed nations and their people.
* He completed his education at a boarding school, St. Cyprian's in the coast of Sussex.

* 1984 is the only novel which he wrote in first-person.

* 1984 was published in 1949. Through this title, which is set in the far future, the author tried to highlight the long irreversible changes that could cripple the society because of totalitarian rule.
* Burmese Days was not published in India and Burma when it was first published, since this book showed the British rule in poor light.

* Such Were the Days was his last piece, which was published after his death, in 1952. It was an autobiographical essay.
* Orwell fought the Spanish war, and he was overtly pleased by the Spanish people. This motivated him to write 'Homage to Catalonia', a narration of his own personal accounts in the Spanish war.
* It was during those days of his service in the Spanish Civil War that he suffered a neck injury caused by a bullet, which almost turned to be fatal. It was a narrow escape Orwell had.
* Orwell was reluctant to take up a job in the military. But given to the background he had, he was left with no other choice. He took the India Civil Services examination, and was deployed in Burma in 1922.

* Suffering from severe bronchitis, he had to tread back to England in 1927.
* Though he was in charge of serving the British Empire and putting the helm on the top of the priority list always, he still didn't approve of the idea very much. He was disgusted, and besides deep within, he was a writer.
* Thus, for a writer, what can be the next best thing to do apart from writing? Hence, his feeling of disgust found its shape in his classic pieces Burmese Days and Shooting An Elephant.
* Orwell resigned from his job and shifted to a lowly place in London, sacrificing the luxury at home. He used to keep himself warm by lighting a candle close to himself. On knowing this, his friends gave him a stove.
* Orwell tasted poverty very, very closely in London, and later in Paris, which got reflected in his first write-up, Down and Out in Paris and London.
* He was afflicted with severe bronchitis, which later turned into pneumonia, and was thus admitted for some weeks in a general ward of a hospital in alarming conditions which were barely accommodating. This state was vividly expressed in his How the Poor Die.
* Just before the publication of Down and Out in Paris and London, he took up the pseudo name George Orwell.
* The Orwell is actually a river in England which flows through Suffolk. He had an affinity for the river. The name George Orwell appeared to Blair to be the perfect association with the working class, which he himself was, in perhaps many ways.
* Orwell wrote the last part of the book 1984 in a rented house in one of the islands in Jura, before succumbing to tuberculosis in 1950.
* Big Brother is a fictional character from Orwell's 1984, which is immensely popular. Orwell is the father of some of the exceedingly popular phrases and slogans, such as 'Big Brother Is watching you' and 'new-speak'.

* Given his caliber of reviewing books, Orwell has also penned an entire essay on the subject of book reviewing.
* He is known to have critiqued over a hundred books.

* There is no official record of the writer's video existing. But in 2003, he was brought to life in a docudrama, entitled 'George Orwell - A Life in Pictures', which was telecast on BBC. His character was played by actor Chris Langham.
* His writing style is plain, yet appealing. It is to cater to the reading habits of the people who valued meanings more than ornamental language. His subjects were intense and pertaining to the difficult encounters of life. Hence, he limited to the overall expression, rather than choosing difficult words to assert meanings to his thoughts.
* Orwell was a rational thinker who did not take up the entire gamut of religion very encouragingly. He also molded his political inclination towards Democratic Socialism.

A Glimpse at Some of Orwell's Renowned Novels

Burmese Days (1934)

* This book was inspired by the prolonged British rule that prevailed in many parts of the world. It narrated his experiences in Burma, which was then under British rule, and formed a part of the Indian colony.
* Orwell could narrate the story of real people and their real life appropriately because he was deployed as a police official there for a brief period. It narrates the inferior quality of the lives the local people led, owing to the oppression that the British Raj had rendered.
* The book was inspired by the locals who stayed there, but fearing legal issues, the characters and the places described in the book were altered and given the feel of fiction.

A Clergyman's Daughter (1935)

* This book aimed at highlighting the life of a woman, who, by virtue of being a Clergy's daughter, had high esteem and big responsibilities to accomplish, which she was doing without any qualms.
* The book has the climax point, when she developed an acquaintance for a man who had a bad reputation in the village. This was a turning point in her life, as she had to abandon the village she was residing in, and found herself in the heart of London.
* Orwell, through the character of this woman, also portrayed the difficult life people were subjected to, once they occupied a lowly stature in English society.
* The question here we are left at the end of the story is whether the incidents that she experienced back in 1935 still hold good in today's fast-paced life in the same form, or are we in for the same problems under different names.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

* This book stages a young, learned man as the protagonist, who gave up his lucrative job of a copywriter to become a small-time employee at a bookstore.
* He is also an aspiring poet who doesn't certify the idea of becoming rich and successful at the cost of compromising on ethics.

* However, at the end of the story, we find him forced to embrace the values which he earlier despised.
* This book of Orwell signals the over-importance we associate with riches, not thinking twice before abandoning good values and virtues.

Coming Up for Air (1939)

* This book catered to the deplorable conditions that London has been plunged into due to the reckless actions man carries on for gains.

* It is written in a style that talks about man's actions in the three time zones of present, past, and future.
* Orwell shows, through the eyes of the protagonist, how lives are negatively impacted due to economic growth, destruction of natural resources, and the introduction to urbanization, killing the beauty of the countryside altogether.

Animal Farm (1945)

* Animal Farm is one of the most sought after works of Orwell.

* This book was written as a criticism for the dictatorship that lasted in the Soviet Union before the emergence of communism and the Russian Revolution.
* The book also focuses on the rise and the eventual fall of the dictator, by the combined effort of the animals.

* It shows how the founding ideas can become corrupt once man rises on the top. He forgoes his principles in order to make flexible his tenure in power.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

* Startled at the long-term detriments of totalitarian rule, Orwell, through his book, 1984 writes about the dangers of a totalitarian government which can ruin the West.

* He takes the reference from the effects of totalitarianism which prevailed in Spain and Russia.
* The book shows the dilemma that affected educated men in the West.

* It also spoke about the technology that was present at that time, which would be used by the authoritarian government to keep an eye on the lives of its citizens.

Collection of Essays by George Orwell

These are a total of 14 essays which have been written by the author at different times in his career. It contains essays which point out about the various experiences he had on different occasions. This ranges from his bitter boarding school days to the Spanish Civil War, British imperialism, et al.

The titles of the essays are:

  • Shooting an Elephant
  • Such, Such Were the Joys
  • Charles Dickens
  • The Art of Donald McGill
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Raffles and Miss Blandish
  • Politics and the English Language
  • Reflections on Gandhi
  • Marrakech
  • Looking Back on the Spanish War
  • Inside the Whale
  • England Your England
  • Boys' Weeklies
  • Why I Write
Orwell died young, at the age of 46. He first married Eileen O'Shaughnessy, who died early. He then remarried Sonia Mary Brownell, and remained married to her till he breathed his last.