Richard Bradford

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304 pages | Hardcover 

A vivid portrait of the man behind the writings.

As one of the most enduringly popular and controversial novelists of the last century, the 70th anniversary of George Orwell’s death in 2020 offers an opportunity to assess his relevance today.
Aside from Orwell’s importance as a political theorist and novelist, his life in its own right is a beguiling narrative. His family was caught between upper-middle-class complacency and uncertainty, and Orwell’s time at prep school and as a scholarship boy at Eton caused him to despise the class system that spawned him despite finding himself unable to fully detach himself from it. His life thereafter mirrored the history of his country; like many from his background, he devoted himself to socialism as a salve to his conscience.
An interest in him endures, principally because it is difficult to differentiate between the man who recorded the terrible events of the Depression and the Spanish Civil War as an observer and the fiction writer who used literature to predict grim possibilities and diagnose horribly endemic inclinations. No other British writer of the 20th century has blended ideas, political commentary, and literary art in such a manner.
For an author whose work has been regarded as the most important in terms of the turbulent years of the mid-20th century, there have been relatively few attempts to present a vibrant portrait of the man behind the writings.