The winners of The 2012 Orwell Prize has been announced, marking the culmination of a search for the best political writing of the past 12 months.

Toby Harnden won the Book Prize for Dead Men Risen, his story of male comradeship and the military tradition in action with the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan.

Amelia Gentleman of The Guardian won the Journalism Prize for her work including articles on benefit fraudsters, benefit dependents and the carers of our elderly.

Rangers Tax-Case wons the Blog Prize after investigated the financial scandal surrounding Rangers Football Club.

Finally, Christopher Hitchens, who made the longlist for his book Arguably, was memorialised with a special award by the judging panel.

But what about the man at the centre of it all, in whose name the award is given out?

George Orwell, of course, is synonymous with political writing - not to mention reality TV and talking pigs - after writing his two best-known novels 1984 and Animal Farm.

He's one of the most widely quoted and revered writers in English history, but how much do we really know about Orwell?

Here's 11 facts that may just take you by surprise.

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  • Fact 1: George Orwell isn't his real name

    Born Eric Blair in 1903, the writer used the pen name George Orwell for most of his professional career. IMAGE: AP/Press Association Images

  • Fact 2: He wasn't just a journalist and a novelist

    Poetry isn't usually connected with Orwell, but he wrote 17 well-received poems.

  • Fact 3: 'Down And Out...' was based on real experience

    Orwell's novel was the result of his spending several years in poverty, doing itinerant work and occasionally being homeless. He eventually found work as a schoolteacher. The ill health he contracted during these years contributed to his early death at the age of 45. IMAGE: <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Blue_plaque_George_Orwell%2C_22_Portobello_Road%2C_Nothing_Hill.jpg" target="_hplink">Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Fact 4: He was a big fan of England

    Orwell's pen name is constructed from the name of the Country's patron saint and the River Orwell. IMAGE: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewilkybarkid/" target="_hplink">The Wilky Bar Kid</a>

  • Fact 5: He was a teacher's pet

    The young George Orwell (then known as Eric) did so well at school that he won a prestigious scholarship to a successful prep school and then to both Wellington and Eton colleges. Here he is playing with some friends at Eton in 1919. IMAGE: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

  • Fact 6: He predicted the concept of Spin Doctors

    Although never using the words "spin doctor", Orwell imagined the idea ahead of its time. IMAGE: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/milesdeelite/3804182563/" target="_hplink">Flickr/Jens Lumm</a>

  • Fact 7: He never went to university

    Instead, Orwell went to Burma to join the imperial police force, where he had experience of colonial rule. IMAGE: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/" target="_hplink">Flickr/eGuide Travel</a>

  • Fact 8: He invented Big Brother

    Not the reality TV show, but the omnipresent dictator in the well-known novel <em>Nineteen-Eighty-Four</em>. IMAGE: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

  • Fact 9: He contributed to the anti-Communist movement

    In 1949, Orwell compiled and submitted a list of 37 writers and journalists to the Information Research Department of People on the suspicion they were Communist. IMAGE: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/8867029@N07/" target="_hplink">Flickr/bollilaurent</a>

  • Fact 10: He came close to death

    While fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell was shot through the neck and nearly died. IMAGE: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

  • Fact 11: He lived in isolation

    Orwell moved to this house on Juna, a remote island on the Inner Hebrides, for several years. IMAGE: <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Barnhill%2C_North_Jura_-_geograph.org.uk_-_939595.jpg" target="_hplink">Wikimedia Commons</a>