George Orwell Special Commissioned Entry on George Orwell, W. Scott Lucas

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(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

Special Commissioned Entry on George Orwell

See also Animal Farm Criticism and 1984 Criticism.

The following chronology provides an overview of Orwell's life and writing career. In-depth explication of these subjects is presented in the “Criticism” section of this entry.

1857: Richard Blair is born in Milborne St. Andrew, Dorset, England, the youngest of ten children of a village vicar.

1875: Ida Limouzin, the daughter of a French father and English mother, is born in the London suburb of Penge but is raised in Moulmein, Burma.

1896: Richard Blair, an official in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service, marries Ida Limouzin.

1898: Eric Blair's older sister, Marjorie, is born on 21 April.

1903: Eric Blair is born in Motihari, Bengal, India, on 25 June.

1904: Ida Blair moves to England with Eric and Marjorie, settling in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.

1908: Eric Blair's younger sister, Avril, is born on 6 April.

1911: Richard Blair retires from the Indian Civil Service and joins his family in England. Eric attends St. Cyprian's School, outside Eastbourne in Sussex, on a scholarship.

1914: Eric Blair's first published poem, “Awake! Young Men of England,” appears in the 2 October issue of the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.

1916: Eric Blair publishes a second patriotic poem, “Kitchener,” in the 21 July Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.

1917: In May, Eric Blair enters the elite public school Eton College on a scholarship. In September, Richard Blair joins the Royal Army as a second lieutenant and is put in charge of mules in a camp near Marseilles, France. Ida Blair takes a clerical job with the Ministry of Pensions and moves with her older daughter, Marjorie, to Earls Court, London.

1921: In December, Eric Blair leaves Eton, placing 138th out of 167 students in the final-year examinations. That same month, his parents move to Southwold in Essex.

1922: In June, Blair takes the week long examinations for entry into the Imperial Police of the India Office.

1922: On 27 October, Blair sails for Rangoon, Burma, as a probationary assistant district superintendent of police. In November he attends training school in Mandalay.

1924: In January, Blair takes up his first provincial post in Myaungmya, eighty miles west of Rangoon. In the spring he moves to Twante, twelve miles from Rangoon.

1925: Blair is posted in January to Syriam, ten miles from Rangoon, and put in charge of security at a refinery of the Burmah Oil Company. In October he becomes an assistant superintendent at the large police headquarters in Insein, ten miles north of Rangoon.

1926: Blair moves in April to Moulmein, the third-largest city in Burma. In December he takes up his last post, at Katha, in the jungle of Upper Burma.

1927: In July, Blair resigns from the Imperial Police, leaving the service early on unspecified medical grounds. The following winter he goes “down and out” in the East End of London and then begins “tramping” about the city.

1928: Blair moves in the spring to Paris, living in a cheap hotel at 6 rue du Pot de Fer in the Latin Quarter. On 6 October his first published article, “La Censure en Angleterre,” appears in the newspaper Le Monde. His first English-language publication, “A Farthing Newspaper,” appears in the 29 December issue of G. K. Chesterton's G. K.'s Weekly. The first part of a three-part series on the unemployment situation in England is published in Le Progrès civique, also on 29 December.

1929: Early in the year the concluding parts of Blair's series on unemployment, as well as another on the British presence in Burma, are published in Le Progrès civique. From April to June the McClure Newspaper Syndicate rejects three of his short stories. In August, Blair submits a version of “The Spike,” based on his tramping in London, to The New Adelphi. In the fall, after the theft of almost all his money, he pawns his good clothes and takes a job doing menial work in the kitchen of a Paris hotel. Blair leaves Paris in December...

(The entire section is 53,452 words.)