Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm


About the Author; Overview; Setting; Themes and Characters; Literary

Technique; Historical and Social Context; Topics for Discussion;

Questions; Related Titles and Adaptations

I About the Author

Born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal, India, on June 25, 1903,

George Orwell was the son of a British civil servant and belonged to

what he considered "the lower-upper-middle class". He returned to

England with his mother in 1905 and attended preparatory school before

winning a scholarship to Eton College, where he first demonstrated an

apparent animosity towards convention and authority. Orwell decided

against continuing his studies at either Oxford or Cambridge and

instead enlisted with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, a decision

that would permanently affect his philosophical perspective, political

consciousness, and creative legacy.

Orwell returned to Britain in 1927, ostensibly on leave after serving

overseas for five years. Within a month of his arrival he had resigned

from his post, announcing to his parents his intention of becoming a

writer. Attracted to a bohemian, artistic lifestyle, he travelled to

Paris in 1928, where he lived for 18 months. He started a career in

journalism in Paris, but did not fully realize his literary potential

until after his return to Britain. His work began to appear in the

journal Adelphi, most notably with the publication in 1931 of his

enduring and masterful essay "A Hanging". His first book, Down and Out

in Paris and London, was rejected by several publishers, including T.

S. Eliot of Faber and Faber, before it was accepted by Victor Gollancz

and released under the pen name of George Orwell in January 1933. As a

result, Orwell continued to use this pen name for the remainder of his

life and literary career, although he never legally changed his given


As a work by a relatively unknown author, the book received unusually

high praise from critics, but it was commercially unsuccessful and

Orwell found the experience disheartening. Undaunted, he earned his

livelihood as a journalist while continuing to publish both fiction

and non-fiction. At this point Orwell left Britain to observe and

fight in the Spanish Civil War, where he was later seriously wounded,

necessitating his return home in 1938. That year, Orwell wrote about

the experience with horrific realism and perception in Homage to


In 1939 Orwell published Coming Up for Air, the first of his novels to

attain commercial success. This personal triumph, however, was soon

overshadowed by the outbreak of World War II. Excluded from military

service for health reasons, Orwell was nonetheless active in civil


During the war years Orwell came up with the idea for Animal Farm, a

novel that was initially rejected by British and American publishers,
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