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Books & Authors, History & Biography

George Orwell

"Big Brother is watching you."

Even if you’ve never read George Orwell’s groundbreaking classic, "1984", you can’t help but be familiar with his creations. The 1949 novel’s iconic concept of an oppressive, omniscient “Big Brother” hasn’t lost its pop cultural relevance in the age of the Internet and social networking (and, of course, reality television), as evidenced by renewed interest in the book in the wake of recent headlines.

It may not surprise you to know that Orwell is best-remembered for the masterful "1984" and the political allegory, "Animal Farm". But did you also know that Orwell…

  • was born in Motihari, India, in June of 1903?
  • was actually named Eric Arthur Blair?
  • derived his pseudonym from a river near his parents’ home in Suffolk, England?
  • served in the Imperial India Police in Burma for several years?
  • fought in the Spanish Civil War, during which he sustained a wound to the neck that permanently damaged his vocal cords?
  • worked variously as a kitchen porter, a dishwasher, a clerk in a general store, and a teacher, in addition to being a writer of articles, reviews, essays, autobiographical narratives, and novels?
  • couldn’t get his publisher to print "Animal Farm" until after World War II was over, for fear of offending Britain’s Soviet allies?
  • suffered from tuberculosis throughout his life?
  • adopted a son in 1943?
  • was a widower?
  • was married to his second wife only six months before his death from tuberculosis in 1950 at the age of 46?

Despite his short life, George Orwell left a lasting literary and cultural legacy. To learn more, check out these books and other resources from the Library’s collection.



1984 by George Orwell (book)




Animal Farm by George Orwell (book)




George Orwell: A Life in Letters by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison (book)



George Orwell: Diaries by George Orwell, edited by Peter Davison and introduced by Christopher Hitchens (book)



“George Orwell”* (biographical essay)


“Sales of Orwell's 1984 rocket in wake of US Prism surveillance scandal; A surge in sales figures show the dystopian classic to be as relevant as ever”* (article)


* Library card required for use outside the Library

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