Orwell's real name was Eric Blair, and he wrote '1984' during a very pessimistic period of his life when in declining health.
Orwell had alternately embraced the ideals of imperialism, then socialism, but vividly criticized their application in political context. His "Shooting an Elephant" was his mea culpa for his military stint in India and his "contribution" to advance British control there. Later he became more exacting with his ideology, refusing the easy bourgeois status to adopt at least for a time the street-life lifestyle of the poor and derelict - source of inspiration for his later work 'Down and Out in Paris and London.'
Remember that Orwell was born in Burma since his father had been stationed there. Following in his father's footsteps, Orwell had an abridged military career under the crown. If he never lived in a true dystopia such as Oceania, Orwell nevertheless had had enough first-hand experience with imperialism and political double-talk to develop a permanent distaste for arbitrary hierarchy and intimidation in any form. Much as Benard Shaw and H.G. Wells had done earlier, he used his literary works as a 'platform' to express his political discontent and in the form of allegories, satires and futuristic cautionary tales.
Orwell's themes expound upon the potential for abuse of power, whatever the system. He also deals with the acceleration of this abuse in light of technological advancement and public surveillance.
Orwell's predictions are startlingly 'right on.' In light of the 9/11 aftermath and tightening "security," who, for example, has not heard at least one time or another the expression "Big Brother is watching you"....?
For a short biographical sketch, see the following:
Another reference comparing 1948 (the date Orwell published his book) and 1984 (the book)is worth a glance:
Below are sources with more information about the link between the work and life of this enigmatic author.