For decades, high schools have required students to read George Orwell’s last novel, 1984 . Many of 1984’s expressions (big brother, thought police, newspeak) have become part of the language. Before writing 1984, Orwell (his actual name was Eric Blair - the story of his pen name is fascinating) had recently become famous for his novel Animal Farm , published just a few years earlier in 1945. Orwell wrote ‘Down and out in Paris and London’ in 1933, years before those more famous novels. Orwell based this novel on time he spent with people who were unemployed, impoverished, hungry, and working in low-paid jobs in hotels and restaurants. Down and Out shows Orwell beginning to work political ideas into his writing while telling an entertaining story with colourful characters and anecdotes. The novel evokes the vitality of another English writer, Charles Dickens , and his memorable collections of impoverished characters, but Orwell’s story also has the grim humour of Fyodor Dostoevsky .