George Orwell/ Coming up for Air

George Orwell/ Coming up for Air


The idea really came to me the day I got my new false teeth.

I remember the morning well. At about a quarter to eight I’d nipped out of bed and got into the bathroom just in time to shut the kids out. It was a beastly January morning, with a dirty yellowish-grey sky. Down below, out of the little square of bathroom window, I could see the ten yards by five of grass, with a privet hedge round it and a bare patch in the middle, that we call the back garden. There’s the same back garden, same privets, and same grass, behind every house in Ellesmere Road. Only difference – where there are no kids there’s no bare patch in the middle.

(Victor Gollancz 1939, Penguin Books, 1962, this edition 1975)
Eric Arthur Blair ( George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. He left in 1921 and joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma the following year, in which he served until 1928. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded.

Orwell suffered from tuberculosis, and was in and out of hospital from 1947 until his death in 1950. He was forty-six.