George Orwell was born in Bengal as Eric Arthur Blair, his father was a British colonial civil servant. Joined the Indian imperial police in Burma but left in 1927 and decided to become a writer.
He went to Paris but was unsuccessful as a writer there, he wrote 'Down and Out in Paris and London', published in 1933 - he took the name George Orwell, shortly before its publication. This was followed by his first novel 'Burmese Days' in 1934. He considered himself a Socialist and in late 1936 Orwell travelled to Spain to fight for the Republicans against Franco's Nationalists. He was forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet-backed communists who were suppressing revolutionary socialist dissenters. The experience turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist.
Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary editor of the Tribune, a weekly left-wing magazine. By now he was a prolific journalist, writing articles, reviews and books. In 1945, Orwell's 'Animal Farm' was published. A political fable set in a farmyard but based on Stalin's betrayal of the Russian Revolution, it made Orwell's name and ensured he was financially comfortable for the first time in his life. 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' was published four years later. Set in an imaginary totalitarian future, the book made a deep impression, with its title and many phrases - such as 'Big Brother is watching you', 'newspeak' and 'doublethink' - entering popular use.
His essay on writing clear English, "Politics and the English Language", 1946, is still very highly regarded by many professional writers. However, Orwell's health was deteriorating and he died of tuberculosis at University College Hospital. Grave is in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire.
A detailed article in the 'Camden History Review 39' enables us to summarise Orwell's Camden homes as follows:
Orwell worked in the Warwick Mansions bookshop in the afternoons and lived in the top floor flat October 1934–March 1935. He then briefly stayed in a flat at 77 Parliament Hill, first floor, back. Then came a top floor flat in Lawford Road which he shared with two others, each with their own room. In January 1936 he left the bookshop and also the Lawford Road flat. He left London, returning at the outbreak of WW2, with his wife Eileen and in 1939/40 moved into 111 Langford Court, Abbey Road (no plaque that we know of). In 1942 the Orwells moved to a Victorian basement flat at 10a Mortimer Crescent and here they adopted a baby boy, Richard. The family was bombed out on 28 June 1944. Orwell rescued his papers including the manuscript for Animal Farm from the bomb site and used a wheelbarrow to remove them. By early October 1944 the family had moved to 27b Canonbury Square but in March 1945 Eileen died. Orwell remained there until 1947. During this time he spent the summers on the Scottish island Jura, but by 1949 he was in UCH with chronic tuberculosis and here he married Sonia Brownell but died just 3 months later.
2023: Londonist have done their usual thorough job on Orwell's London locations.
Credit for this entry to: Beverley Duguid