The Road to Wigan Pier shows Orwell as reformer, as political theorist, as agitator, as an advocate for Socialism, as a man worried about Fascism’s rise, and as a keen writer and shrewd observer of the human condition. Published in 1937, it is George Orwell’s 2nd full-length work of nonfiction and is divided into two distinct sections. PART 1 is a straightforward documentary account of the bleak living conditions of the working classes (especially coal miners) in the industrial north of England, in towns like Wigan (where Orwell fully immersed himself)—the deplorable housing, the debilitating effects of unemployment, the poverty, the intolerable living conditions, and what everyday life in a coal mine was really like, the descriptions of which Orwell hoped would rouse the middle classes from their ignorant complacency. PART 2 I found to be brilliant--a long, personal essay about Socialism (which he advocated) and the development of his own political consciousness, and, in the role of devil’s advocate, why he thought Socialism was having a hard time taking hold in England. A mix of autobiography, politics, wry polemic and righteous indignation to provoke thought and discussion, The Road to Wigan Pier still stands today as a testament to Orwell’s commitment to liberty and justice. Ed loved and highly recommends!
Before he authored the dystopian 1984 and the allegorical Animal Farm, George Orwell was a journalist, reporting on England's working class — an investigation that led him to examine democratic socialism. In the 1930s, the Left Book Club, a socialist group in England, sent George Orwell to investigate the poverty and mass unemployment in the industrial north of England. Once there, he went beyond the requests of the book club, to investigate the employed as well. Orwell chose to live as the coal miners did — sleeping in foul lodgings, subsisting on a meager diet, struggling to feed a family on a dismal wage, and going down into the hellish, backbreaking mines. What Orwell saw clarified his feelings about socialism, and in The Road to Wigan Pier, he pointedly tells why socialism, the only remedy to the shocking conditions he had witnessed, repelled "so many normal decent people." "Orwell's code was a simple one, based on truth and 'deceny'; he was important — and original — because he insisted on applying that code to his own Socialist comrades as well as to the class enemy...It is the best sociological reporting I know."—The New Yorker
About the Author
George Orwell (1903–1950), the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, was an English novelist, essayist, and critic. He was born in India and educated at Eton. After service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he returned to Europe to earn his living by writing. An author and journalist, Orwell was one of the most prominent and influential figures in twentieth-century literature. His unique political allegory Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with the dystopia of 1984 (1949), which brought him worldwide fame.