George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist and Critic

Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling in '1984'
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George Orwell is a novelist, essayist and critic. He's famous as the author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

List of Novels

  • 1934 - Burmese Days
  • 1935 - A Clergyman's Daughter
  • 1936 - Keep the Aspidistra Flying
  • 1939 - Coming Up for Air
  • 1945 - Animal Farm
  • 1949 - Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nonfiction Books

  • 1933 - Down and Out in Paris and London
  • 1937 - The Road to Wigan Pier
  • 1938 - Homage to Catalonia
  • 1947 - The English People

Animal Farm

In late 1939, Orwell wrote for his first collection of essays, Inside the Whale. For the next year, he was busy writing reviews for plays, films and books. In March 1940 his long association with Tribune began with a review of a sergeant's account of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Throughout this period Orwell kept a wartime diary.

In August 1941, Orwell obtained "war work" when he was taken on full-time by the BBC's Eastern Service. In October, David Astor invited Orwell to write for him at The Observer — Orwell's first article appeared in March 1942. 

In March 1943 Orwell's mother died and around the same time he was starting work on a new book, which turned out to be Animal Farm. In September 1943, Orwell resigned from his BBC position. He was set on writing Animal Farm. Just six days before his last day of service, in November 1943, his adaptation of the fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes was broadcast. It was a genre in which he was greatly interested and which appeared on Animal Farm's title-page.

In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where he was on staff until early 1945, writing more than 80 book reviews.

In March 1945, Orwell's wife Eileen went into the hospital for a hysterectomy and died. Orwell returned to London to cover the 1945 general election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on August 17, 1945, and a year later in the U.S., on August 26, 1946.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.

For the next four years, Orwell mixed journalistic work – mainly for TribuneThe Observer and the Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many smaller political and literary magazines – with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.

In June 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.


During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a time of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England) and Homage to Catalonia

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both are powerful novels warning of a future world where the state machine exerts complete control over social life. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 were honored with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature. In 2011, he received the award again for Animal Farm.

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Lombardi, Esther. "George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist and Critic." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 28). George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist and Critic. Retrieved from Lombardi, Esther. "George Orwell: Novelist, Essayist and Critic." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).