Eric Arthur Blair was born on June 25th 1903 in Motihari; Bengal, India, Blair was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. He used the pen name George Orwell; the son of a British civil servant, George Orwell spent his first days in India, where his father was stationed. His mother brought him and his older sister, Marjorie, to England about a year after his birth and settled in Henley-on-Thames. His father stayed behind in India and rarely visited. His younger sister, Avril, was born in 1908. Orwell didn’t really know his father until he retired from the service in 1912. And even after that, the pair never formed a strong bond. He found his father to be dull and conservative.
His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism. Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is perhaps best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian—descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices—has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including cold war, Big Brother, thought police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, and thoughtcrime. Orwell was married to Eileen O’Shaughnessy until her death in 1945. According to several reports, the pair had an open marriage. Orwell had a number of dalliances during this first marriage. In 1944 the couple adopted a son, whom they named Richard Horatio Blair, after one of Orwell’s ancestors. Their son was largely raised by Orwell’s sister Avril after Eileen’s death
Orwell’s health had continued to decline since the diagnosis of tuberculosis in December 1947. In mid-1949, he courted Sonia Brownell, and they announced their engagement in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell’s affairs and attended him diligently in the hospital, Early on the morning of 21 January, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs, killing him at age 46. Brownell inherited Orwell’s estate and made a career out of managing his legacy.
Orwell had requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see whether any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard.
George Orwell’s grave in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, and arranged for Orwell to be interred in All Saints’ Churchyard there. Orwell’s gravestone bears the simple epitaph: “Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950”; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen name. Orwell’s son, Richard Horatio Blair, was brought up by Orwell’s sister Avril after his father’s death. He maintains a public profile as patron of the Orwell Society. He gives interviews about the few memories he has of his father.