George Orwell - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about George Orwell

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

Recommended links
Picture of George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984; twentieth century British Literature / English Literature
George Orwell   (1903 - 1950)
Category:  English Literature
Born:  June 25, 1903
Motihari,Bengal, India
Died:  January 21, 1950
London, England
Related authors:
W. H. Auden
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George Orwell - LIFE STORIES
1/21/1950     George Orwell, Working Class
George Orwell's first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, was a documentary, based on his desire to "get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against their tyrants." He hoped that his last book, 1984, was fiction, but it too was on the side of the working class, in the belief that the Thought Police and Newspeak must be fought by the Winston Smiths of the world, rather than the Winston Churchills.
1/21/1950     Orwell on Orwell
On this day in 1950 George Orwell (Eric Blair) died. Many of Orwell's contemporaries viewed him as over-earnest or foolishly idealistic, and even his friends made jokes about their "Knight of the Woeful Countenance." In "Why I Write," an essay from his last years, Orwell said that he would have been a different man and writer, had the times not been what they were: "...I wasn't born for an age like this; / Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?"
5/20/1937     Auden, Orwell, Spain
On this day in 1937 W. H. Auden's Spain was published. Proceeds from sales of this pamphlet-length poem went to the Medical Aid Committee, one of many international organizations supporting the anti-Franco cause in the Spanish Civil War, and a group which Auden had tried to join as an ambulance driver. Had he been successful, he might have helped George Orwell: also on this day in 1937, he was shot in the throat while fighting for the Republican side.
8/17/1945     Orwell & "The Gramophone Mind"
On this day in 1945, George Orwell's Animal Farm was published. The book was delayed by the WWII paper shortage and very nearly a casualty of the war itself, either at the hands of German bombs or British politics. "The enemy is the gramophone mind," he wrote in his preface to the book, "whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment."
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Animal Farm
Burmese Days
Down and Out in Paris and London
by George Orwell, John Carey (Introduction)
Homage to Catalonia
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Orwell: The Authorized Biography
by Michael Shelden
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"Learning to Love Big Brother"
A website dedicated to "expanding and enriching public discourse" offers this article which compares the tactics of George W. Bush in the "war on terrorism" to those of the state in 1984, addressing topics including the ideas of permanent war, Big Brother, the Ministry of Truth, and the Thought Police.

"In 1984, the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever-changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime's autocratic practices. ... Bush's war against terrorism has become almost as amorphous."
"The cartoon that came in from the cold"
"For George Orwell, there was nothing pro-American about Animal Farm. The CIA, however, had other ideas. Karl Cohen tells the remarkable story of how US intelligence secretly funded a landmark British movie." Published in the Guardian Unlimited (UK).
John Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism
Find a scholarly essay which comments on Orwell's views of high vs. mass culture, cultural decline, Dickens, Jonathan Swift, T. S. Eliot, and other writers.

"The unexpectedness of Orwell's evaluations emerges directly from his moral and political categories, in particular, from a charity toward political enemies that sometimes verges on self-hatred. When T. S. Eliot is accused of writing for the few, Orwell remarks that he is one of the few contemporary poets to reproduce spoken English. Toward leftists like himself, on the other hand, he is merciless. They are hypocrites, he fumes, for to be a writer at all is to be a bourgeois. The modernist separation of work from author protects authors of the Right but not of the Left."
Online Exhibition from the Collection of Daniel J. Leab, Brown University
An exhibit featuring a gallery of first edition dustjackets of books including Down And Out in Paris and London, Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and 1984.

"Orwell's writing continues to attract and to have an exceptional prescience. The writer's views on society ring like a firebell in the night. As an academic I know what has happened to my own discipline in recent years. Orwell fought strenuously against the debasement of ideas, the abuse of language, and regimentation by the state. All that seems inescapable today. Until his untimely death Orwell fought vigorously against these corruptions. And, however one views Orwell the man, it is that energetic campaigning which has overtaken my initial interest and which strongly attracts me to the works of a most remarkable writer."
Find excerpts from Bernard Crick's biography George Orwell: A Life, and numerous articles on Orwell's involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Texts by Orwell include critical reviews on Charles Dickens, Tolstoy and Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, W. B. Yeats, and George Gissing. Also features essays on a variety of topics, and electronic texts including Down and Out in Paris and London, Burmese Days, A Clergyman's Daughter, Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Highly recommended.
Political Writings of George Orwell
Offers essays, newspaper columns, editorials, and letters written by Orwell in the 1940s on topics including war, liberty of thought, freedom of expression, language and politics, totalitarianism and "objective truth," the Spanish Civil War, and works including Animal Farm and 1984. Highly recommended.

"Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. ... By 'patriotism' I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseperable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."
This online lesson plan for 1984 features a plot synopsis and commentary, suggested activities and topics of discussion for the classroom, notes on language, theme, symbolism, and irony, and an extended bibliography of suggested fiction and critical reading. A shorter outline of Animal Farm provides notes on reading and understanding the text, and suggested topics for discussion and research.

"1984, written in 1948 and published in 1949, was intended as a warning against totalitarian tendencies rather than as a prophetic work. Now that the year 1984 has passed, many may scoff at the warning, but those who do would be wise to look at the present a bit more closely. Currently, we have subliminal messages, two-way televisions, computer viruses threatening to endanger our much depended-upon information systems (with possible global impact), and countries all over the world committing atrocities against their own people. Recent political campaigns have shown us explicitly the extent to which propaganda has corrupted our own language. Politicians have perfected their own type of 'Newspeak.'"
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February 20, 2018
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