Reading George Orwell tends to leave most people with an impression of knowing Orwell personally, even intimately. This is something that happens with a very few writers. It is curious that Orwell achieves this effect while disclosing very little of his intimate or personal life. For example, in his personal writings there is almost nothing about Richard Blair, his father, a minor retired colonial administrator, who all of Orwell’s adult life lived on his pension in a sort of prolonged Edwardian twilight in Southwold. Orwell tells us next to nothing about his early literary ambitions, and nothing at all about his passional life. As all his biographers have noted, he was an unusually reticent man. Yet readers feel they know him and ...
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