The Road to Wigan Pier was written by George Orwell and published in 1937. The first half of this work documents his sociological investigations of the bleak living conditions amongst the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the industrial north of England before World War II. The second half is a long essay on his middle-class upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, questioning British attitudes towards socialism. Orwell states plainly that he himself is in favour of socialism; but feels it necessary to point out reasons why many people who would benefit from socialism, and should logically support it, are in practice likely to be strong opponents.
The publisher Victor Gollancz suggested at the end of 1935 that Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England. In the period from 31 January to 30 March 1936, Orwell lived in Wigan, Barnsley and Sheffield researching the book. The conventional view, based on a recollection by George Gorer, is that this was a specific commission with a £500 advance—two years' income for him at the time. However Taylor argues that Orwell's subsequent circumstances showed...