Orwell’s England: A Journey Through the Author’s Homeland

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George Orwell, one of Britain’s most celebrated authors, has captured the imaginations of readers around the world with his poignant novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’. A journey through Orwell’s homeland, England, is a wonderful way to get to know this influential author better. From his birthplace to the corners of the British Isles that he travelled which inspired his books, this article explores what Orwell’s England has to offer.

The Birthplace of Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair, later known as George Orwell, was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihari, a small town in the modern-day Indian state of Bihar. His father, Richard Blair, was an officer in the Indian Imperial Police who had married Ida Limouzin the year before. While the family was in India, Orwell was taught at Henley Hall, a private Anglo-Indian school. His mother decided, in 1906, to return to England without her husband to seek a better life for her son.

The Journey Across Orwell’s England


Eric Blair was schooled in England from 1907 when the family settled in Henley-on-Thames. He attended St Cyprian’s School in Eastbourne, where his mother found work as a teacher. But it was in London that he cut his teeth as a writer, selling articles to newspapers such as The New Leader and editorials to the trade magazine The Bookseller.

In 1922 Eric headed north to Manchester, resisting the comforts and amenities of London on what would turn out to be a turning point in his life journey. A few days after leaving Edward Levy-Lawson, the owner of The New Leader, wrote in his journal “Poor Eric Blair! His ambition seems most laudable, but I am very doubtful if he will succeed”.

The North

During his time in the North, the young writer visited a wide variety of small towns, villages and cities. Although he found the English countryside ‘genuinely beautiful’, he was painfully aware of the poverty and deprivation suffered by the industrial working classes. He was also exposed to political movements such as the Independent Labour Party, experiences which made a lasting impression on his writing.


In 1929 George Orwell returned to his beloved Yorkshire, this time travelling around northern England and Scotland, even to the Isle of Jura. He wanted to experience life as a tramp, and wrote dispatches home to the local newspaper. These proved to be some of the most vivid depictions of British rural life to date and were later collected in his book ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.

The South

Upon returning to England, Orwell soon found himself back in the South, in Wigan and Barnsley. The desperate economic situation of these areas inspired his novel, ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, which is considered to be one of his greatest works and an indictment of lack of progress and poverty in industrial towns.

The South West

From 1936 onwards, Orwell focussed largely on writing in a rural setting. He returned to Devon and the coastal town of Southwold, the home of his parents in law. Here, he would write about the realities of a bourgeois, post-first-world-war England, where people worked hard to establish a comfortable home for their families. These themes would go on to influence not only his fiction but also his non-fiction.

Orwell’s Final Years and Death

Orwell’s last few years were spent in a cottage in the village of Wallington, Hertfordshire. This was where he wrote some of his most famous novels, including ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’. In 1949, Orwell fell gravely ill with tuberculosis and it was thought that he would not recover. He passed away at University College Hospital, London, on 21 January 1950.

George Orwell’s England has been a source of inspiration for writers since his death. From the bustling metropolis of London to the remote corners of the British Isles, Orwell’s England offers much to the thoughtful traveller. It was the settings explored through his tremendous and often overlooked non-fiction writings and of course his books, which has captivated the imaginations of readers worldwide. A journey through Orwell’s England will give any visitor a greater understanding of him as both a writer and a person.

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