Why Did George Orwell Write?

Personal and political — it was a fusion of both purposes.

Radhika Ghosh


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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Published in Gangrel (1946), ‘Why I Write’ by George Orwell sheds light not only on his own reason(s) for pursuing writing but also focuses on the key drives that motivate all writers!

Orwell welcomes us to his essay with the honest confession that during his early years (when he was between seventeen and twenty-four years of age), he did consider moving away from writing. Thankfully, that idea left his mind when he was exposed to these lines from ‘Paradise Lost’:

“So hee with difficulty and labour hard
Moved on: with difficulty and labour hee.”

Charmed by the placement of the words and the sounds they evoked, Orwell completed his first novel ‘Burmese Days’ which in his words is “. . . full of detailed descriptions and arresting similes, and also full of purple passages . . .”

According to Orwell, there are 4 chief motives for writing:

Sheer egoism: The desire to be known, celebrated, talked about and remembered even after death.

Aesthetic enthusiasm: The inexplicable fondness towards words, the sound they evoke, their rhythm and everything that makes writing pleasant.