George Orwell battled tuberculous throughout his last years of life, which coincided with when he was working on, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” his famous piece of writing that warned of the dangers of totalitarianism and brought terms like “Big Brother” into everyday language.
The famous author wrote the thesis for “1984” in 1944 and then worked on it in 1947 and 1948. In December 1947, Orwell was diagnosed with tuberculosis although he had likely been suffering from it since at least 1938.
It’s believed that his trying times physically while writing, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” likely contributed to the darkness of the novel. Orwell even later said that “‘1984’ would have been less gloomy had he not been so ill.” But his misery did allow him to more vividly describe the pain felt by characters in that book.
In fact, throughout his writing career, Orwell attempted to fully experience the events that he wanted to put down on paper. For example, prior to writing his first book, “Down and Out in Paris and London,” a look at life in more impoverished areas of those two cities, he went right into those communities and lived in them.
Orwell’s final months were busy ones. On June 8, 1949, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” was published, and it received mostly positive reviews and high sales numbers. Of course, it has since become one of the most revered books in literary history and is studied in classrooms throughout the world.
Around then, he and Sonia Brownell began a relationship before getting engaged in September and marrying on Oct. 13 of that year. She was his second wife after his first, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, tragically died when she suffered a heart attack during a hysterectomy in 1945, less than nine years after they had wed.
Orwell died on Jan. 21, 1950, when an artery burst in his lungs. He was 46.