George Orwell – Why I Write

One of my all-time favourite essays is George Orwell’s Why I Write. He says there are four great motives for writing and, with characteristic honesty, puts this at the top of his list:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class.

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5 thoughts on “George Orwell – Why I Write

  1. “But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class.”

    nice… and sometimes people write just to be understood, let alone all that fame, money etc.

  2. (i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.

    I love his blunt and on-point honesty!

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