GEORGE ORWELL (whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair) was born in 1903 in India and then went to Eton when his family moved back to England. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). He lived in Paris before returning to England, and Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. After writing The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia (his account of fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War), Orwell was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco where he wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War Orwell served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC. His political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945 and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him worldwide fame. George Orwell was taken seriously ill in the winter of 1948–9 and died in London in 1950.
PETER DAVISON is Research Professor of English at De Montfort University, Leicester. He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1926 and studied for a London External BA (1954) by correspondence course. He edited an Elizabethan text for a London MA (1957) and then taught at Sydney University, where he gained a Ph.D. He was awarded a D.Litt and an Hon. D. Arts by De Montfort University in 1999. He has written and edited fifteen books as well as the facsimile edition of the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four and the twenty volumes of Orwell’s Complete Works (with Ian Angus and Sheila Davison). He is a past president of the Bibliographical Society, whose journal he edited for twelve years. He was made an OBE in 1999 for services to literature. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Bibliographical Society in 2003 and appointed a Professor Emeritus of Glyndŵr University in 2009.