Literary Birthday – 25 June – George Orwell

George Orwell was born 25 June 1903, and died 21 January 1950.


  1. For a creative writer possession of the ‘truth’ is less important than emotional sincerity.
  2. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art.
  3. In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.
  4. Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
  5. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
  6. Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.
  7. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.
  8. The atmosphere of orthodoxy is always damaging to prose, and above all it is completely ruinous to the novel, the most anarchical of all forms of literature.
  9. Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket.
  10. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
  11. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.
  12. Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
  13. During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
  14. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

George Orwell – His Six Questions And Six Rules For Writing

George Orwell was an English novelist and journalist. He is best known for the dystopian novel 1984 and the allegorical novella Animal Farm, which together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author. Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture. The term Orwellian is used in English, together with other phrases coined by the author, including ‘Cold War’, ‘Big Brother’, ‘thought police’, ‘doublethink’, and ‘thoughtcrime’.

Source for image: Branch of the National Union of Journalists (BNUJ)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 25th June 2013

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