Pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair
The English novelist, essayist, and critic, famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).
Born Eric Arthur Blair in Bengal, India and educated at Eton College, Orwell served as an imperial policeman in Burma before becoming a writer. His work is characterised by lucid prose, opposition to totalitarianism, support for democratic socialism and social criticism.
Best known for his allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), his non-fiction works are as critically well respected: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) his experience of working-class life in the industrial north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938) his experiences soldiering in the Spanish Civil War. His essays on politics, literature, language and culture are still also widely read and admired.
His feelings about inter-war Hampstead were not always positive. In Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) written whilst he was working in a bookshop in South End Green, he immortalised part of Hampstead as ‘dingy, depressing’ Willowbed Road.
It was while he was staying on Parliament Hill however, sharing a room in a flat, that he met and fell in love with his first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, whom he married the following year.
The plaque was proposed by Gerald Isaaman, Editor of the Ham & High. “After all the fuss over Orwell at the start of 1984, I thought it appropriate that there should be some event of significance to see it out”, he said. The plaque was unveiled by the former leader of the Labour Party, Michael Foot, and among the guests was Mr Eric Blair his adopted son.