Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Poetry written by schoolchildren in the First World War: Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell)

George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, (1903 - 1950) - British

George Orwell was the pen-name of Eric Arthur Blair, who was born in India on 25th  June 1903.  His parents were Richard Walmsley Blair, who worked for the Indian Civil Service, and Ida Mabel, nee Limouzin, whose father was French. Eric has two sisters – Marjorie, who was five years his senior, and Avril, who was five years his junior.  Ida returned to live in England in 1904, where the family lived in Henley-on-Thames.   Eric’s father returned to live in England in 1912 and the family moved to Shiplake, just south of Henley.

Eric began writing poetry at a young age.  He and Marjorie attended a convent school in Henley.  Eric’s uncle, Charles Limouzin suggested sending Eric to boarding school and in 1911 he attended St. Cyprian’s in Eastbourne.

Eric’s school encouraged pupils to write poetry and during the First World War two of his poems were published in the school's local newspaper the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.   He came second in the Harrow History Prize, a competition held annually for children at primary school.   The high standard of Eric’s school work meant that he was awarded a scholarship to Wellington School and Eton College.   In January 1917 Eric went to Wellington, transferring to Eton in the autumn of that year.  Eric’s French teacher at Eton was Aldous Huxley.  Eric was involved in the writing and publishing of a school magazine.

When he left Eton, Eric passed the entrance examination and joined the Imperial Police which became the Indian Policy Service.

After a long and interesting life, Eric died of Tuberculosis in London on 21st January 1950.

Since I began researching in 2012, I understand that George Orwell’s family have published his poems written during the First World War.