1903. George Orwell born as Eric Arthur Blair in Mothari, Bengal. His father was an English government official in the Opium department.
1904. Blair moves with mother, Ida Mabel Limouzin and older sister, to Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, to be educated in England, according to Anglo-Indian tradition.
1908. Attends Anglican convent school in Henley.
1911. Attends St Cyprian’s, a preparatory school in Eastbourne.
1917. Attends Eton as a King’s Scholar.
1921. Leaves Eaton, but does not go on to university.
1922. Joins the Indian Imperial Police and serves as an officer in Burma.
1927. Resigns from Indian Police and returns to England.
1928. Goes to Paris to become a writer.
1929. Money runs out – returns to England and becomes a tramp.
1932. Secures a job teaching in a private school.
1933. Publishes Down and Out in Paris and London using the pseudonym George Orwell.
1934. Works in a bookshop in London. Publishes his first novel – Burmese Days.
1935. Meets his future first wife, Eileen Maude O’Shaughnessy. Publishes A Clergyman’s Daughter.
1936. Visits the north of England, researching working conditions amongst miners. Marries Eileen O’Shaughnessy. Publishes Keep the Aspidistra Flying Goes to Spain and joins the POUM to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
1937. Shot through the neck and returned to England. Publishes The Road to Wigan Pier.
1938. Publishes Homage to Catalonia.
1939. Publishes Coming Up for Air.
1940. Publishes Inside the Whale
1941. Joins the BBC as a talks producer and broadcaster for India. Publishes The Lion and the Unicorn. Writes reviews for Time and Tide, Tribune, The Observer, Partisan Review, and Manchester Evening News,
1943. Resigns from the BBC and becomes literary editor of Tribune.
1944. Completes Animal Farm, but no publisher will accept it. He and Eileen adopt baby boy, Richard.
1945. Resigns from Tribune to become war correspondent for The Observer. Death of wife Eileen. Animal Farm published and becomes successful overnight.
1946. Leaves London to live with son and nurse on the island of Jura.
1947. Becomes ill and enters hospital near Glasgow.
1948. Returns to live on Jura.
1949. Enters a sanatorium in Gloucestershire. Nineteen Eighty-Four published to instant success. Admitted to University College Hospital, and marries Sonia Brownell, a former colleague from Tribune.
1950. Dies of tuberculosis and is buried in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays.
1953. Such, Such Were the Joys
George Orwell: A Life is the more-or-less standard biography, written in 1980 and revised twice since then. Bernard Crick puts his emphasis on Orwell’s politics. There are other more recent biographies, but Crick’s will help you to understand the social and ideological background to the turbulent period through which Orwell lived and wrote. It’s particularly good for understanding the strained allegiances amongst socialists and liberals caused by the Stalinist betrayal.
© Roy Johnson 2004