Since the mid 20th century, George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "Nineteen Eighty-Four" have sold over 40 million copies. The adjective "Orwellian" is now a byword for a particular way of thinking about life, literature and language, while Orwell himself has become one of the most potent and symbolic figures in western political thought. Despite his iconic status, Orwell (born Eric Blair) remains an enigma - a passionate democratic socialist steeped in the worse illusions of his Edwardian boyhood, a bitter critic of totalitarianism who concealed a pronounced authoritarian streak and a supporter of social equality who promptly put his adoptive son down for Eton. His progress through the literary world of the 1930s and 40s was characterized by the myths he built around himself. Whether as a reluctant servant of the Raj in 1920s Burma, a mock down-and-out in inter-war England or a Republican volunteer for Spain, he fashioned an image that was often sharply at odds with the real circumstances of his life.
D. J. Taylor is well-known as a critic, reviewer and novelist- his previous books include After the War- The Novel and England since 1945 , an acclaimed biography, Thackeray, and novels, Trespass and The Comedy Man. He lives in Norwich.