Pass It On

Tidbits and treats from the Sunnyvale Public Library Reference Division

Happy Birthday to George Orwell! (1903-1950) June 25, 2008

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”– George Orwell, Animal Farm

British political satirist George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, is most famous for his gripping stories of government run amok. His political novels, 1984 and Animal Farm, have long been considered must-reads, but this noted author has even more to offer. Check the Sunnyvale Public Library catalog for these books by Orwell, or ask a librarian to help you find a title.

Down and Out in Paris and London (1933): Early in his writing career, Orwell dressed as a vagrant and joined the ranks of London’s hard-hit and homeless, seeking to learn about their experiences. The book also includes tales from his two years as a struggling writer in Paris.

Burmese Days (1934): Orwell’s first published novel, Burmese Days is the story of a man trying to fit in with other British colonials in Burma (now Myanmar), but chafing against the oppressiveness of English colonial society. Orwell, who for five years was an officer for Britain’s Imperial Police, drew from his own experiences for the novel.

Homage to Catalonia (1938): Orwell and his wife moved to Spain in the 1930s to help fight against the rise of fascism there. But Orwell became disillusioned by power struggles he saw within the anti-fascist movement, and then fled the country after being shot in the throat during a battle. Homage to Catalonia describes some of his experiences during this period.

Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (1950): This collection contains essays like “Politics and the English Language,” in which Orwell argues that “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” The title essay, “Shooting an Elephant,” and other pieces reflect on incidents from Orwell’s years in Myanmar.

[Some information above was taken from Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2005 and Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Volume 7: Writers After World War II, 1945-1960. Gale Research, 1991. Want to learn more about Orwell or other authors? Visit the Biography Resource Center! (Library card required for remote access).]


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