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George Orwell Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (18)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 25 June 1903Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India
Date of Death 21 January 1950London, England, UK  (tuberculosis)
Birth NameEric Arthur Blair
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born the son of an Opium Agent in Bengal, Eric Blair was educated in England (Eton 1921). The joined the British Imperial Police in Burma, serving until 1927. He then travelled around England and Europe, doing various odd jobs to support his writing. By 1935 he had adopted the 'pen-name' of 'George Orwell' and had written his first novels. He married in 1936. In 1937, he and his wife fought against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He produced some 3000 pages of essays and newspaper articles as well as several books and programs for the BBC.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Spouse (2)

Sonia Orwell (13 October 1949 - 21 January 1950) (his death)
Eileen Maud O'Shaugnessy (9 June 1936 - 29 March 1945) (her death) (1 child)

Trivia (8)

He is buried in the graveyard of Sutton Courtenay church, near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, although he has no connection with the village. He had left instructions that he wanted to be buried in the nearest graveyard to wherever he died. However, he died in central London and none of the London churches had space for him to be buried. Fearing that his body would have to be cremated instead, his widow asked each of her friends around the country to approach their local vicar to see if their church had room. This is how he comes to be buried in Sutton Courtenay--purely by chance. His grave bears just the words, "Eric Arthur Blair / Born June 25th 1903 / Died January 21st 1950" with no mention being made of his more well-known pen-name or even the fact that he had been a famous author.
Orwell and his wife, Eileen, adopted a son, Richard Horatio.
He provided the British government a list of people he suspected to be Communist sympathizers in the late 1940s. He singled out Charles Chaplin, actor Michael Redgrave and novelist J.B. Priestley.
Recorded propaganda broadcasts for Great Britain during World War II that were broadcast in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In these broadcasts, which were a mixture of news, opinion and sparring against the propaganda of the pro-Japanese Indian rebel Subhas Chandra Bose, one can see the ideological underpinnings of his novels "1984" and "Animal Farm"--an aversion to tyranny, anyone's tyranny.
Wrote "Animal Farm" after his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, in which he fought alongside Trotskyite troops in the Republican (Loyalist) forces. At this time (1936-39), Joseph Stalin was deep into carrying out the Great Purge in the Soviet Union, and so any followers of Trotsky were suspect. He barely escaped from Spain with his life, and ever after was a committed foe of Communism, particularly Stalinism. "Animal Farm" is a barely-disguised metaphor for Stalin's propaganda-laced Soviet Russia, as well as his later novel "1984".
Chose the title of his magnum opus "Nineteen Eighty-Four" by inverting the last two digits of the year he completed the manuscript (1948).
Room 101 in "1984", a nightmarish room where the individual's worst fear comes true, was named after a conference room at the BBC, where Orwell had to sit through meetings he found boring.
Two TV series are based on his novel "1984": "Big Brother" and Room 101 (1994). Interestingly, both are humorous versions of his disturbing ideas.

Personal Quotes (18)

Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
He who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.
No one can look back on his schooldays and say with truth that they were altogether unhappy.
No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid . . . Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives", from the mildest liberal to the most extreme anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.
One defeats a fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.
England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during "God Save the King" than of stealing from the poorbox.
No one, at any rate no English writer, has written better about childhood than [Charles Dickens].
Take away freedom of speech, and the creative faculties dry up.
[on British imperialism] Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets. This is called "pacification".
[on Stalinist Russia] People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die in Arctic lumber camps. This is called "elimination of unreliable elements". Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
In an Empire of Lies, telling the Truth is a radical act.
The child and the adult live in different worlds. If that is so, we cannot be certain that school, at any rate boarding school, is not still for many children as dreadful an experience as it used to be. Take away God, Latin, the cane, class distinctions and sexual taboos, and the fear, the hatred, the snobbery and the misunderstanding might still all be there. It will have been seen that my own main trouble was an utter lack of any sense of proportion or probability. This led me to accept outrages and believe absurdities, and to suffer torments over things which were in fact of no importance. It is not enough to say that I was 'silly' and 'ought to have known better'. Look back into your own childhood and think of the nonsense you used to believe and the trivialities which could make you suffer. Of course my own case had its individual variations, but essentially it was that of countless other boys. The weakness of the child is that it starts with a blank sheet. It neither understands nor questions the society in which it lives, and because of its credulity other people can work upon it, infecting it with the sense of inferiority and the dread of offending against mysterious, terrible laws. It may be that everything that happened to me at St Cyprian's could happen in the most 'enlightened' school, though perhaps in subtler forms. Of one thing, however, I do feel fairly sure, and that is that boarding schools are worse than day schools. A child has a better chance with the sanctuary of its home near at hand. And I think the characteristic faults of the English upper and middle classes may be partly due to the practice, general until recently, of sending children away from home as young as nine, eight or even seven.

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