Few writers have had a greater impact on language, politics and literature than George Orwell. His very name is a byword for the kind of state and social repression he wrote about in his final book, 1984. His essays and opinions continue to surface in opinion columns and conversation to an extent unrivalled by most of his mid-20th century peers.

This introduction gives the general reader a foundation for understanding Orwell’s professional development and personal life. It traces his childhood in England, relationships with family and friends, initial career as a police officer in colonial Burma, and the literary steps that led from the sociological observations of Down & Out in Paris and London and The Road To Wigan Pier through several relatively obscure novels to his masterpieces of the 1940s, Animal Farm and 1984. Finally, there are references to the influences on Orwell and the legacy he built before his untimely death from tuberculosis in 1950.