Eric Blair (1903–50), who would later find fame under his pen name George Orwell, arrived in Burma in November 1922 as a youthful member of the Imperial Police. Sent first to Maymyo (now Pyin Oo Lwin), he spent time in the Ayeyarwady delta and Moulmein (now Mawlamyine, the home town of his maternal grandmother) before being posted to Katha.

Orwell’s experiences in Burma convinced him of the wrongs of imperialism, and he gained a reputation as an outsider more interested in spending time with the Burmese than in more “pukka” (appropriate) pursuits for a British officer. In this he resembled Flory, the protagonist of his first novel Burmese Days (1934), which was set in a thinly disguised Katha. Orwell also wrote about Burma in his essays A Hanging (1931) and Shooting an Elephant (1936).

There’s a long-standing joke that Orwell wrote three books about Burma, including his denunciations of totalitarianism Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Unlike the anti-imperialist Burmese Days, both novels were, until recently, banned by the regime.

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