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George Orwell Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Big Brother was named the "Scariest Character in Literature" in a poll at the Web site AbeBooks.com. (Harry Potter's nemesis Voldemort came in tenth).14

Orwell was so devoted to his native England that his friend V.S. Pritchett once described him as having had "gone native in his own country." Traveling made him anxious, as he worried that he wouldn't be able to find the "proper" tea.15

Orwell has resonated with many musical artists. David Bowie, the Eurythmics and Pink Floyd have all recorded albums inspired by Orwell's writings.16

Orwell had a tendency toward self-deprivation. One of its more charming manifestations was his fondness for British cooking. He may have been one of the only people in history to describe the mess hall food served to British soldiers as "really very good."17

Orwell had had romantic feelings for the woman who asked him to submit the list of communist sympathizers. After their first meeting a few years earlier, Orwell wrote Celia Kirwan a letter proposing either marriage or an affair—when it came to love, Orwell's acuity for words left him. (She turned him down, gently.) His list of suspect individuals included the actor Charlie Chaplin.18

The odd jobs Orwell took during his "down and out" years in Europe include teacher, dishwasher at a French hotel, hop picker and clerk in a secondhand bookstore. This last job temporarily destroyed Orwell's love of books. Like all retail employees, Orwell thought his customers were insane and took note of their bizarre habits such as placing elaborate orders for books they had no intention of ever picking up. He recorded them in the essay "Bookshop Memories."19

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