Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense, revolutionary opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language and a belief in democratic socialism.
Considered perhaps the twentieth century's best chronicler of English culture, Orwell wrote fiction, polemical journalism, literary criticism and poetry. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949) and the satirical novella Animal Farm (1945). This pair of books has sold more than those of any other twentieth-century author. His Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War which cemented his ideology, and his numerous essays on various subjects relating to politics, literature, linguistics, culture and lifestyle, are also widely acclaimed. Orwell's influence on culture, popular and political, continues. Several of his neologisms, along with the term Orwellian, now a byword for any draconian or manipulative social phenomenon or concept inimical to a free society, have entered the vernacular.
Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari, Bihar, Bengal Presidency, British India. His great-grandfather Charles Blair had been a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who had married Lady Mary Fane daughter of Thomas Fane, 8th Earl of Westmorland, and he was supported, as an absentee landlord, by a good income from slave plantations in Jamaica. His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman. Although the gentility was passed down the generations, the prosperity was not; Eric Blair described his family as "lower-upper-middle class". His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Burma where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters; Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, Ida Blair took him to England.