During his life time Orwell was best known for his journalistic output, both in the British press and in books such as Homage to Catalonia (describing his activities during the Spanish Civil War), and Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities).
Orwell was a committed socialist for most of his life, as a result of many of the experiences described in his books. This was in opposition to his middle class upbringing. "You have nothing to lose but your aitches" as he once said in mockery of the strong rules over middle class pronunciation of the time.
During the Spanish Civil War he fought as an infantry man in the anti-stalinist POUM, or Party of Marxist Unification. Homage to Catalonia describes his personal feeling of the absence of any sense of class structure as he walked the streets of the revolutionized areas of Spain.
His is probably best remembered in modern times for two of his novels, namely Animal Farm and 1984. The former is an allegory of the corruption of the socialist ideals of the Russian Revolution with the onset of Stalinism, and the latter is Orwell's prophetic vision of the results of such totalitarianism. Both of these books are often represented as being critical of Socialism per se, which is only credible whilst in ignorance of Orwell's own opinions.
Orwell died at 47 years old as the result of tuberculosis, which he probably contracted during the events described in Down and Out in Paris and London.
Books by Orwell include:
- Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
- Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)
- The Road to Wigan Pier (1937)
- Homage to Catalonia (1938)
- Animal Farm (1945)
- 1984 (1949)