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George Orwell

george-orwell_1418059cGeorge Orwell (1903-1950) was a British novelist and journalist whose writings focused on injustice and opposition to totalitarianism.

As a young man, Orwell joined the Burmese police force before turning to writing in his 20s.  Although born into a wealthy family he began exploring the underside of life in Britain and France by taking menial jobs and living with the homeless.  With the advent of the Great Depression he began touring hard-hit locations to see, first-hand, how it had impacted people in the poorest areas of Britain.  In 1936 he traveled to Spain to fight in that nation’s civil war on the side of the Republicans where he was wounded.

During World War 2, Orwell wrote government propaganda to assist the war effort while also working on new books warning about the dangers of totalitarian governments.  He died from tuberculosis in 1950.

For young readers the best Orwell book to start with is Animal Farm – a parable about Russia under the Communist dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. In the novel the animals take over their farm from their cruel master only to find that life in their new society isn’t what they thought it would be.

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Animal Farm