Richard Austin Freeman, (born 1862, London--died Sept. 30, 1943, Gravesend, Kent, Eng.), popular English author of novels and short stories featuring the fictional character John Thorndyke, a pathologist-detective.Educated as a physician and surgeon, Freeman practiced in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where he caught a fever. Eventually forced by ill health to retire from practice (1904), he began to write fiction. The Red Thumb Mark (1907) was the first of many works featuring Thorndyke.
Sir William Watson, in full Sir John William Watson, (born Aug. 2, 1858, Burley in Wharfedale, Yorkshire, Eng.--died Aug. 11, 1935, Ditchling, Sussex), English author of lyrical and political verse, best-known for his occasional poems.His first volume, The Prince's Quest (1880), was in the Pre-Raphaelite manner. Thereafter he became a poet of statement, concerned with current affairs. Watson's Wordsworth's Grave (1890), his Lachrymae Musarum (1892; on the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the poet laureate), and his coronation ode for King Edward VII contributed to his reputation. He..
Brian W. Aldiss, in full Brian Wilson Aldiss, (born August 18, 1925, East Dereham, Norfolk, England--died August 19, 2017, Oxford, Oxfordshire), prolific English author of science-fiction short stories and novels that display great range in style and approach.Aldiss served with the British army from 1943 to 1947, notably in Burma (Myanmar), and he went on to use these experiences in such autobiographical novels as The Hand-Reared Boy (1970). He worked as a bookseller until turning to full-time writing shortly after the publication of The Brightfount Diaries in 1955. Non-Stop (1958) was..
E. Nesbit, in full Edith Nesbit, (born August 15, 1858, London, England--died May 4, 1924, New Romney, Kent), British children's author, novelist, and poet.Nesbit spent her childhood in France and Germany and later led an ordinary country life in Kent, which provided scenes for her books. She was interested in socialism and was one of the founders of the association known as the Fellowship of New Life, out of which grew the Fabian Society.Nesbit began writing fiction for children in the early 1890s, and she eventually produced more than 60 books for juveniles, as well as some less-successful..
Dame Beryl Bainbridge, in full Dame Beryl Margaret Bainbridge, (born November 21, 1932?, Liverpool, England--died July 2, 2010, London), English novelist known for her psychologically astute portrayals of lower-middle-class English life.Bainbridge grew up in a small town near Liverpool and began a theatrical career at an early age. (Sources differ on her birth year. Although Bainbridge believed it was either 1932 or 1934, her birth was reportedly registered in 1933.) She acted in various repertory theatres for many years before she published her first novel. Her work often presents in..
Ann Radcliffe, nee Ann Ward, (born July 9, 1764, London, England--died February 7, 1823, London), the most representative of English Gothic novelists. She stands apart in her ability to infuse scenes of terror and suspense with an aura of romantic sensibility.Radcliffe's father was in trade, and the family lived in well-to-do gentility. In 1787, at the age of 23, she married William Radcliffe, a journalist who encouraged her literary pursuits. Ann Radcliffe led a retired life and never visited the countries where the fearful happenings in her novels took place. Her only journey abroad, to..
John Evelyn, (born Oct. 31, 1620, Wotton, Surrey, Eng.--died Feb. 27, 1706, Wotton), English country gentleman, author of some 30 books on the fine arts, forestry, and religious topics. His Diary, kept all his life, is considered an invaluable source of information on the social, cultural, religious, and political life of 17th-century England.Son of a wealthy landowner, after studying in the Middle Temple, London, and at Balliol College, Oxford, Evelyn decided not to join the Royalist cause in the English Civil War for fear of endangering his brother's estate at Wotton, then in parliamentary..
J.R.R. Tolkien, in full John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, (born January 3, 1892, Bloemfontein, South Africa--died September 2, 1973, Bournemouth, Hampshire, England), English writer and scholar who achieved fame with his children's book The Hobbit (1937) and his richly inventive epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings (1954-55).At age four Tolkien, with his mother and younger brother, settled near Birmingham, England, after his father, a bank manager, died in South Africa. In 1900 his mother converted to Roman Catholicism, a faith her elder son also practiced devoutly. On her death in 1904, her boys..
Geoffrey Trease, British writer of more than 100 books, most of them children's historical novels that were translated into some 20 languages; his most notable in that genre was Cue for Treason (1940) (b. Aug. 11, 1909, Nottingham, Eng.--d. Jan. 27, 1998, Bath, Eng.).
Francis Meres, (born 1565, Kirton, Holland, Lincolnshire, Eng.--died Jan. 29, 1647, Wing, Rutland), English author of Palladis Tamia; Wits Treasury, a commonplace book valuable for information on Elizabethan poets.Meres was educated at the University of Cambridge and became rector of Wing, Rutland, in 1602. His Palladis Tamia (1598) is most important for its list of Shakespeare's dramatic output to 1598, but it also includes mention of the deaths of Christopher Marlowe, George Peele, and Robert Greene and briefly records the critical estimation of the poets of the day. Shakespeare is..
Robert Williams Buchanan, (born Aug. 18, 1841, Caverswall, Staffordshire, Eng.--died June 10, 1901, London), English poet, novelist, and playwright, chiefly remembered for his attacks on the Pre-Raphaelites.London Poems (1866) established Buchanan as a poet. He followed his first novel, The Shadow of the Sword (1876), with a continuous stream of poems, novels, and melodramas, of which Alone in London (produced 1884) may be taken as typical. Buchanan's own forcefulness and moral fervour roused his contempt for Algernon Charles Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and other of the Pre-Raphaelite..
Arthur Henry Hallam, (born Feb. 1, 1811, London, Eng.--died Sept. 15, 1833, Vienna, Austria), English essayist and poet who died before his considerable talent developed; he is remembered principally as the friend of Alfred Tennyson commemorated in Tennyson's elegy In Memoriam.Hallam was the son of the English historian Henry Hallam. He met Tennyson at Trinity College, Cambridge (1828), where they joined other artistically and politically progressive students in the club called The Apostles. Hallam defended Tennyson's early work, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830), in a review for the Englishman's..
Joseph Warton, (baptized April 22, 1722, Dunsfold, Surrey, Eng.--died Feb. 23, 1800, Wickham, Hampshire), English critic and classical scholar who anticipated some of the critical tenets of Romanticism. His brother Thomas was poet laureate from 1785 to 1790.Warton was impatient with some aspects of Neoclassical poetry, as is shown by his poem The Enthusiast; or the Lover of Nature (1744). His Odes on Various Subjects (1746) was an attempt to emphasize the role of imagination in verse. This was followed in 1756 by the first part of the Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope. Its most striking..
Richard Owen Cambridge, (born Feb. 14, 1717, London, Eng.--died Sept. 17, 1802, Twickenham, Middlesex [now Greater London]), English poet and essayist and author of the Scribleriad.Educated at Eton College and at St. John's College, Oxford, the young Cambridge went into residence at Lincoln's Inn in 1737. Four years later he married and went to live at his country seat of Whitminster, Gloucestershire. In 1751 he moved to Twickenham, where he entertained a brilliant circle of his famous contemporaries, including Thomas Gray, Charles James Fox, and William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Horace Walpole..
Richard Flecknoe, (born c. 1600--died c. 1678), English poet, dramatist, and traveller, whose writings are notable for both the praise and the ridicule they evoked.Flecknoe was possibly a Jesuit of Irish extraction. The most authentic information about him is contained in his Relation of Ten Years' Travels in Europe, Asia, Affrique, and America (1654?). Flecknoe's picture of himself as a ladies' man contrasts sharply with Andrew Marvell's account in his poem "Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome," which ridicules Flecknoe's threadbare asceticism and bad verses. Dryden lampooned him in..
T.F. Powys, in full Theodore Francis Powys, (born Dec. 20, 1875, Shirley, Derbyshire, Eng.--died Nov. 27, 1953, Mappowder or Sturminster Newton, Dorset), English novelist and short-story writer whose works dealt mainly with the hardships and brutalities of rural life.The brother of the authors John Cowper and Llewelyn Powys, he did not go to a university but rather turned to farming for several years. Thereafter he lived frugally on an allowance from his father and on his income from writing. After his marriage in 1905, he settled in Dorset and lived the life of a near-recluse until his death.Of..
Charles Cotton, (born April 28, 1630, Beresford Hall, Staffordshire, Eng.--died Feb. 16, 1687, London), English poet and country squire, chiefly remembered for his share in Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler.Cotton made a number of translations from the French, including, in 1685, his often-reprinted version of Montaigne's Essays, Corneille's Horace (1671), and several historical and philosophical works. Following the French fashion, he wrote Scarronides (1664, 1665), which is a coarse burlesque of the Aeneid, books 1 and 4, and the Burlesque upon Burlesque . . . Being some of Lucians..
Henry Treece, (born 1911/12, Wednesbury, Staffordshire, Eng.--died June 10, 1966, Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire), English poet and historical novelist whose ability to bring the ancient world to life in fiction makes his work especially appealing to young readers. As a poet he--together with J.F. Hendry--was a founder of the New Apocalypse movement, a reaction against the politically oriented, machine-age literature and realist poetry of the 1930s.Treece was educated at Birmingham University. He became a schoolteacher, and later he served as intelligence officer in the Bomber..
Samuel Purchas, (born c. 1577, Thaxted, Essex, Eng.--died 1626, London), English compiler of travel and discovery writings who continued the encyclopaedic collections begun by the British geographer Richard Hakluyt in Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes; Contayning a History of the World, in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and Others (4 vol., 1625; 20 vol., 1905-07).Purchas studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, and at the University of Oxford. He was vicar first of a Thames-side parish in Essex and later in London, and he met many seafarers in the course of his..
Giles Fletcher the Elder, (born c. November 1546, Cranbrook, Kent, Eng.--died March 11, 1611, London), English poet and author, and father of the poets Phineas Fletcher and Giles Fletcher the Younger; his writings include an account of his visit to Russia.Educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, Fletcher was employed on diplomatic service in Scotland, Germany, and Holland. In 1588 he was sent to Russia to the court of the tsar, Fyodor I, with instructions to conclude an alliance between England and Russia, to restore English trade, and to obtain better conditions for the English Muscovy..
Sir John Harington, (born 1561--died Nov. 20, 1612, Kelston, Somerset, Eng.), English Elizabethan courtier, translator, author, and wit who also invented the flush toilet.Harington's father enriched the family by marrying an illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII; his second wife was an attendant to the Princess Elizabeth, who stood as godmother for John. Educated at Eton, Cambridge, and Lincoln's Inn, London, Harington married in 1583. For translating and circulating among the ladies a wanton tale from the 16th-century Italian poet Ariosto, he was banished from court until he should translate..
Edward John Trelawny, (born November 13, 1792, London, England--died August 13, 1881, Sompting, Sussex), English author and adventurer, the friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, whom he portrayed brilliantly in his books.Trelawny was a handsome, dashing, and quixotic personality from an old and famous Cornish family. He was brought up in London and went to a school in Bristol, from which he ran away. At age 13 he entered the Royal Navy, and he was discharged in 1812. Trelawny wrote of his experiences as a midshipman in his semiautobiographical novel Adventures of a Younger Son (1831).In..
Osbern Bokenam, Bokenam also spelled Bokenham, (born Oct. 6, 1393?, Old Buckenham?, Norfolk, Eng.--died c. 1447), English poet and friar best known as the author of a verse collection entitled Legends of Holy Women.Little is known of Bokenam's life. He traveled often to Italy, living for several years in Venice and later making pilgrimages to Rome and other cities. He made his home, however, in an Augustinian convent in Suffolk. At least two works in addition to the legends have been attributed to Bokenam.The work on which his reputation stands is an approximately 10,000-line poem written in..
Mary Norton, nee Mary Pearson, (born Dec. 10, 1903, London, Eng.--died Aug. 29, 1992, Hartland, Devon), British children's writer most famous for her series on the Borrowers, a resourceful race of beings only 6 inches (15 cm) tall, who secretly share houses with humans and "borrow" what they need from them.Norton was educated in a convent school in London and trained as an actress with the Old Vic Shakespeare company in London. She lived in Portugal from 1927 until the outbreak of World War II. While working for the British Purchasing Commission in the United States (1940-43), she published The..
John Dennis, (born 1657, London, Eng.--died Jan. 6, 1734, London), English critic and dramatist whose insistence upon the importance of passion in poetry led to a long quarrel with Alexander Pope.Educated at Harrow School and the University of Cambridge, Dennis traveled in Europe before settling in London, where he met leading literary figures. At first he wrote odes and plays, but, although a prolific dramatist, he was never very successful.The most important of Dennis' critical works are The Usefulness of the Stage (1698), The Advancement and Reformation of Modern Poetry (1701), The Grounds..
Frederick William Rolfe, pseudonym Baron Corvo, (born July 22, 1860, London, England--died Oct. 25, 1913, Venice, Italy), English author and eccentric, best known for his autobiographical fantasy Hadrian the Seventh. He provides the curious example of an artist rescued from obscurity by his biographer; many years after Rolfe's death A.J.A. Symons wrote a colourful biographical fantasy, The Quest for Corvo (1934), the publication of which marked the beginning of Rolfe's fame.Rolfe left school at age 14 and became successively a pupil-teacher, a student at the University of Oxford, and..
Sir Thomas Overbury, (baptized June 18, 1581, Compton Scorpion, Warwickshire, England--died September 15, 1613, London), English poet and essayist, victim of an infamous intrigue at the court of James I. His poem A Wife, thought by some to have played a role in precipitating his murder, became widely popular after his death, and the brief portraits added to later editions established his reputation as a character writer.Overbury was educated at Oxford and entered the Middle Temple, London, in 1598. Having traveled in the Low Countries, in 1606 he became secretary and close adviser to Robert..