My VIP for this week is George Orwell because I am studying his novel 1984. The first thing that you should know is that George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair! He was born on June 25, 1903, in Motihari, Bihar, in British India. His great-grandfather Charles Blair was a “wealthy country gentleman in Dorset” who received income from his plantations in Jamaica. He married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland. His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair was a clergyman, and his father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked for the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Limouzin Blair grew up in Burma, and she had a French grandfather. He has two sisters, one five years older and one five years younger. When he was one year old, his mother her children took to England where his father joined them a few years later. “His birthplace and ancestral house in [India] has been declared a protected monument of historical importance.”
Blair attended school at St Cyprian’s School, a boarding school, for five years. He wrote some of his first poems there, but he hated the school. He earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton, but there were no spots available at Eton. He attended Wellington for a few months and then moved to Eton.
Even though Blair’s great-grandparents were wealthy, the money did not pass down through the generations. His parents could not afford to send him to university, and his family decided that he should join the Imperial Police (later the Indian Police Service). He took the entrance exam and had the seventh highest score out of twenty-six candidates who passed. He accepted a post in Burma because his maternal grandmother lived at Moulmein.
Blair returned to England when he left the service, lived a few years in Paris, and returned to England. He was a teacher at a private school for boys and later worked at a book store, all the while attempting to establish himself as a writer.
Blair was married twice. He first married Eileen O-Shaughnessy (m. 1936; d. 1945) and then married Sonia Brownell (m. 1949). He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in December 1947. He courted Sonia Brownell, but he went to the hospital in London soon after they announced their engagement. They were married in the hospital on October 13, 1949. Early in the morning of January 21, 1950, an artery burst in his lungs. He died at age 46 in the University College Hospital in London, England. He was buried in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England.
Blair, under the pen name of George Orwell became an English novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work shows his interest in social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and support for democratic socialism. He is best known for his allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-four or 1984 (1949). He was ranked as one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 by The Times in 2008.
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 Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, proles, unperson, and thoughtcrime.
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