5 Surprising Facts About George Orwell

Updated: Feb 19

George Orwell is probably best known for penning the famed dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is considered one of the greatest classics every written. But writing books was just one part of the fascinating life Orwell led, so let’s take a look at some surprising Orwellian facts.

1. George Orwell was a pen name

In his younger years, Orwell spent some time living in poverty in Paris and London. The part autobiographical, part fiction Down and Out in Paris and London was the product of these experiences and also Orwell’s first novel. When the young Eric Arthur Blair was preparing to publish his first book he was worried his family might be embarrassed by his time in poverty and decided to use the pen name George Orwell instead of his real one!


2. George Orwell worked odd jobs

While on occasion Orwell did work certain jobs as part of research for his books, he also spent most of his life doing odd side hustles while writing novels too. His jobs were as varied as working as a teacher, war correspondent, and as a police officer for the Indian Imperial Police in Burma which led to his penning Burmese Days.

3. George Orwell nearly lost Animal Farm

At the peak of WWII, England was experiencing intense aerial attacks and in 1944 Orwell experienced it first-hand when a German bomb struck and demolished his London home. Luckily, Orwell and his family were away at the time, but Orwell’s work, including the manuscript for his novel Animal Farm were in his study. At the first opportunity, Orwell returned home to sift through the rubble for hours in search of his writings. Luckily, he did manage to rescue Animal Farm!


4. George Orwell was a socialist

Though a self-proclaimed democratic socialist with some extreme left leanings, Orwell was vehemently anti-communist—something which is probably pretty obvious from his books Nineteen Eight-Four and Animal Farm! He held so strongly to these beliefs that during the Spanish Civil War he joined a Republican militia to fight fascism. He also took his dislike for communism to the extent that he drew up a list of artists, writers, and academics he believed to be communists and passed it on to a friend in the British government.

5. George Orwell hated fame

Following the success of Animal Farm, Orwell began to gain recognition as a prolific writer. However, Orwell hated the attention and would often complain about people pestering him. This led to his retreat to the Scottish isle of Jura to write Nineteen Eighty-four in peace. Ironically, it would be this experience of isolation that would lead to the further decline of his health and, just over seven months after the novel was published to wide acclaim, Orwell’s death.


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