Sonia Brownell (1918-1980) was the second and last wife of writer George Orwell. She was also known as Sonia Blair or Sonia Orwell.
Brownell was born in Calcutta, the daughter of a British colonial official. When she was six, she was sent to a convent school for education, an environment which she bitterly detested.
Orwell first met her when she worked as an assistant for Cyril Connolly, an old friend of his from Eton, at the literary magazine Horizon. Following the death of his first wife Eileen, Orwell became desperately lonely, and on October 13, 1949 married Brownell, a mere two months before his death from tuberculosis.
In later life she often went by the name Sonia Orwell; however, this was never legally her name as 'Orwell' was merely a pseudonym her husband had chosen for himself (his legal name was Eric Arthur Blair).
Some commentators have argued that she helped Orwell through the painful last months of his life and gave him a hitherto unknown sense of joy. Others saw her as a mercenary who was only interested in becoming his literary widow. She was fiercely protective of his estate following his death, and edited the four volumes of his collected essays, journalism and letter with Ian Angus.
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