Eric Blair was born in Bengal, educated at Eton, where he studied under Aldous Huxley, and after service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, returned to Europe to earn his living writing novels and essays. He was essentially a political writer who wrote of his own times, a man of intense feelings and fierce hates. He hated totalitarianism, and served in the Loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. He was critical of Communism but was himself a Socialist. He distrusted intellectuals, although he was a literary critic. He hated cant and lying and cruelty in life and in literature.
Not only figuratively but also literally was the writing of 1984 like a bout of some painful illness for George Orwell. Throughout its writing he was fighting tuberculosis and was at times admitted to the hospital where he sat in bed, propped up on pillows and hammered away on his typewriter morning, noon and night, incessently smoking his own roll-up cigarettes. He was administered a newly developed drug to which he developed a severe allergic reaction. His skin flaked, his mouth became painfully ulcerated, his hair and nails fell out. After several months recuperating in the sanitorium Orwell returned to his home on the remote Scottish island of Jura, one of the most inaccessible spots in the British Isles, and finished writing the book. It was published in June 1949 and Orwell died half a year later, aged only forty-seven, of a neglected lung ailment, leaving behind a substantial body of work, a growing reputation for greatness, and the conviction that modern man was inadequate to cope with the demands of his history.