Orwell’s Essays

Unit Question

Are essays still an effective means of reaching a wider audience?

Orwell and why he writes

Do some background research on Orwell. Some area’s to focus on are:

  • Biographical details (birth, death etc.)
  • Political and ideological details
  • Orwell the writer

Copy your findings here for the class to share.

The Essay Genre

I always find it interesting that the essays of published writers, lets call them literary essays, are so different to the essays that your teachers ask you to write.  Now that you’ve had a good look at one example of the genre, compare and contrast your writing (take one of you English essay’s as a text) with Orwell’s.

Task: Use a two column planner to compare and contrast an excerpt from Orwell’s “Why I write” to a piece of your own writing. 

In summary, take a look at Edward Scerbo’s analysis of some of Orwell’s essays.

  1. Does Scerbo appear to agree or disagree with Orwell?
  2. What does Scerbo make clear about the purpose of Orwell’s essays?
  3. Take notes on the essays that Scerbo discusses that we will also use

Politics and the English Language

In this essay, Orwell is quite critical about the state of the English language of his time.


  1. Read the essay and take note of the issues he has with contemporary writing.
  2. Have a look at a sample of your own writing. Do you break any of his assertions?
  3. What can we learn from Orwell’s assertions about our future development as a writer?

The essays we will read:

  • Marrakech
  • The Spike
  • A Hanging
  • Shooting an Elephant
  • Why I Write

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