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An intellectual who did not like intellectuals, a socialist who did not trust the state, a writer of the left who found it easier to forgive writers of the right, a liberal who was against free markets, a Protestant who believed in religion but not in God, a fierce opponent of nationalism who defined Englishness for a generation.
Aside from being one of the greatest political essayists in the English language and author of two of the most famous books in twentieth-century literature, George Orwell was a man of many fascinating contradictions, someone who liked to go against the grain because he believed that was where the truth usually lay.
George Orwell: English Rebel takes us on a journey through the many twists and turns of Orwell's life and thought, from the precocious public school satirist at Eton and the imperial policeman in Burma, through his early years as a rather dour documentary writer, down and out on the streets of Paris and London and on the road to Wigan pier, to his formative experiences as a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War.
Above all, the book skilfully traces Orwell's gradual reconciliation with his country, a journey which began down a coal mine in 1936 to find its exhilarating peaks during the dark days of the Second World War.
Robert Colls is Professor of Cultural History at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is author of the acclaimed Identity of England an Observer Book of the Year.