He was born as Eric Arthur Blair on 25 June 1903 in India, where his father worked in the Indian Civil Service.  Orwell lived in several houses in Hampstead. In 1942 he rented 10a Mortimer Crescent which was the lower half of the house. Orwell lived there with his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy, his mother and his sister Avril.

Mortimer Crescent was built in 1854 and originally called Mortimer Road after Thomas Hill Mortimer, who was the solicitor for Fulk Greville Howard and then Colonel Arthur Upton, who owned the Greville Estate area. These were built as houses for wealthy and professional people. Orwell liked the house which conjured up middle-class households and told a friend: ‘they would probably have kept a Buttons here’, he said, enchanted at the thought. But other visitors thought the flat was a ‘dreary, icily cold basement’. This was partly because the boiler would go out unless someone got up in the night to stoke it.

At the time Orwell, who was unfit for active war service because of his poor lungs, was working for the foreign service of the BBC. He was also writing the novel ‘Animal Farm’ and in November 1943 he became literary editor for Tribune which gave him more time for his novel. By April 1944 ‘Animal Farm’ was ready but several publishers refused it because they saw it as an attack on the Soviet regime who were wartime allies. It was only published in August 1945.

In May 1944 Orwell and Eileen adopted baby Richard. At the end of June 1944 a V1 doodlebug exploded in the garden of North Hall, the large house opposite, and caused considerable damage to many of the houses. Number 10 was destroyed and Orwell thought he had lost the manuscript for ‘Animal Farm’ but he discovered it in the ruins of the house. The garden of North Hall is now the site of the flats of Broadoak House which was built in the 1950s. Number 10 Mortimer Crescent and some of the other damaged houses were the site of Kington House in 1955.

Because of the bomb damage, Orwell and his wifemoved to Islington. After the War while Orwell was in Cologne, Eileen who had gone into hospital for a hysterectomy tragically died from the aesthetic on 29 March 1945. Later Orwell went to a remote farmhouse on the island of Jura and wrote the first draft of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, but he collapsed with tuberculosis. With the help of friends he was treated with the new drug streptomycin, which they obtained from America. But this was abandoned because the drug had painful side effects. Rested, he returned to Jura and sitting in bed he typed the second daft of the novel, but collapsed again when he finished it. ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was published in 1949. Still ill, Orwell spent most of 1949 in a Gloucester sanatorium before transferring to University College Hospital in London. The doctors gave him some hope, although he was dying, and he married Sonia Brownell in hospital in October 1949. His friend Anthony Powell noted that despite the tragic circumstances of Orwell’s failing health, the short three month marriage ‘immensely cheered him’. Orwell died in University College Hospital on 21 January 1950, aged 46.