Orwell, whose real name is Eric Arthur Blair, was born on June 25, 1903 in what is now known as the Gyanbabu Chowk locality in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day East Champaran district, Bihar, India), in British India. His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Moulmein, Burma, where her French father was involved in speculative ventures. Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England. He never visited his birthplace again. He died in 1950 aged 47.
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), who used the pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism. Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Orwell's work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian – descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices – has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including cold war, Big Brother, thought police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, and thought crime.
Orwell’s The Motihari house lay neglected for decades until a visit in 1983 by Scottish journalist Ian Jack, who was tracing Orwell’s roots for an article to be published in the following, symbolically significant year. In the subsequent article, Jack claimed not a single person in the town had been aware of the great writer’s local roots.
In 2014 it was announced that Orwell's birthplace, a bungalow in Motihari, Bihar, in India would become the world's first Orwell museum. His birthplace and ancestral house in Motihari has been declared a protected monument of historical importance. Conservationists in India have started to restore the dilapidated colonial bungalow in which George Orwell was born, as the government of Bihar state announced plans to convert it into a museum dedicated to the author. Besides the three-room house in which Orwell was born on 25 June 1903, the property in the small town of Motihari consists of a few tiny cottages and a large warehouse that was used to store opium. Orwell's father, Richard W Blair, worked in the remote town near the Indian-Nepalese border for the opium department, supervising poppy growers and collecting opium for export to China.
Many of the buildings are in ruins, but the bungalow and a nearby cottage still stand, and are being restored along with the warehouse. Today, the house has been finally renovated into a museum which state officials hope will become a pilgrimage site similar to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon or Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana.
For many years it was in possession of a government school until the state government acquired the land around it under the Bihar Ancient Monument (Protection) Act, 1976 a few years ago.
Motihari is part of East Champaran district, a region from where in 1917 Mahatma Gandhi launched the civil disobedience movement that ultimately resulted, 30 years later, in the departure of the British from India. Gandhi had been moved by the plight of cultivators in Bihar who were being forced to produce opium and indigo for the lucrative markets of China and Europe respectively.