Stephen Phillips, (born July 28, 1864, Summertown, Oxfordshire, England--died December 9, 1915, Deal, Kent), English actor and poet who was briefly successful as a playwright.Phillips was educated at Trinity College School, Stratford-upon-Avon, and at King's School, Peterborough. In 1885 he joined an acting company founded by Frank Benson, his cousin. Phillips's first collection of poetry, Poems (1897), was followed by several verse dramas, including Herod (1901), Ulysses (1902), and Nero (1906). Phillips was compared to Shakespeare for Paolo and Francesca (1900), but his reputation..
Alfred Noyes, (born Sept. 16, 1880, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Eng.--died June 28, 1958, Isle of Wight), English poet, a traditionalist remembered chiefly for his lyrical verse.Noyes' first volume of poems, The Loom of Years (1902), published while he was still at the University of Oxford, was followed by others that showed patriotic fervour and a love for the sea. He taught modern English literature at Princeton University in the United States from 1914 to 1923. Of Noyes's later works, the most notable is the epic trilogy The Torch-Bearers (1922-30), which took as its theme the progress..
John Drinkwater, (born June 1, 1882, Leytonstone, Essex, Eng.--died March 25, 1937, London), English poet, playwright, and critic, remembered as a typical man of letters of the Georgian age of the 1910s and 1920s. He was a successful promoter of repertory theatre in England and the author of popular chronicle dramas. In 1907 he became manager and producer for the Pilgrim Players, which developed into the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. He published several volumes of verse (including The Collected Poems, 2 vol., 1923); critical studies (William Morris, 1912; Swinburne, 1913; and..
Daphne du Maurier, in full Dame Daphne du Maurier, married name Lady Daphne Browning, (born May 13, 1907, London, England--died April 19, 1989, Par, Cornwall), English novelist and playwright, daughter of actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier, best known for her novel Rebecca (1938).Du Maurier's first novel, The Loving Spirit (1931), was followed by many successful, usually romantic tales set on the wild coast of Cornwall, where she came to live. She also wrote historical fiction, several plays, and Vanishing Cornwall (1967), a travel guide. Her popular Rebecca was made into a motion picture..
Mary Webb, nee Meredith, (born March 25, 1881, Leighton-under-the-Wrekin, Shropshire, Eng.--died Oct. 8, 1927, St. Leonards, Sussex), English novelist best known for her book Precious Bane (1924). Her lyrical style conveys a rich and intense impression of the Shropshire countryside and its people. Her love of nature and a sense of impending doom within her novels invite comparison with those qualities in the works of Thomas Hardy.Mrs. Webb was educated in a school in Southport. In 1912 she married Henry Webb, a schoolteacher, and except for her last six years (which were spent in London),..
Frederick Marryat, (born July 10, 1792, London--died Aug. 9, 1848, Langham, Norfolk, Eng.), naval officer and the first important English novelist after Tobias Smollett to make full and amusing use of his varied experience at sea.Marryat entered the Royal Navy at the age of 14 and served with distinction in many parts of the world before retiring in 1830 with a captain's rank. He then began a series of adventure novels marked by a lucid, direct narrative style and an unfailing fund of incident and humour. These included The King's Own (1830), Peter Simple (1834), and Mr. Midshipman Easy (1836)...
Edward Young, (baptized July 3, 1683, Upham, Hampshire, Eng.--died April 5, 1765, Welwyn, Hertfordshire), English poet, dramatist, and literary critic, author of The Complaint: or, Night Thoughts (1742-45), a long, didactic poem on death. The poem was inspired by the successive deaths of his stepdaughter, in 1736; her husband, in 1740; and Young's wife, in 1741. The poem is a blank-verse dramatic monologue of nearly 10,000 lines, divided into nine parts, or "Nights." It was enormously popular.As a dramatist, Young lacked a theatrical sense, and his plays are rarely performed. Of them, The..
Letitia Elizabeth Landon, also called L.E.L., (born Aug. 14, 1802, London, Eng.--died Oct. 15, 1838, Gold Coast Colony [now Ghana]), English poet and novelist who, at a time when women were conventionally restricted in their themes, wrote of passionate love. She is remembered for her high-spirited social life and mysterious death and for verse that reveals her lively intelligence and emotional intensity.Landon's first volume of verse came out in 1821; it and the eight collections that followed were extremely popular, and she was in great demand as a contributor to magazines and giftbooks,..
Eden Phillpotts, (born November 4, 1862, Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India--died December 29, 1960, Broad Clyst, near Exeter, Devon, England), British novelist, poet, and dramatist especially noted for novels evoking their Devon setting in a manner reminiscent of the style of Thomas Hardy.Phillpotts was educated at Plymouth and for 10 years was a clerk in an insurance office. He then studied for the stage and later decided to become a writer. He produced more than 100 novels, many of them about rural Devon life. Among his more important works are the novels Children of the Mist (1898), Sons of the Morning..
Ouida, pseudonym of Maria Louise Rame, last name also spelled de la Ramee, (born Jan. 1, 1839, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Eng.--died Jan. 25, 1908, Viareggio, Italy), English novelist, known for her extravagant melodramatic romances of fashionable life.Ouida's father was a teacher of French, and the pseudonym "Ouida" derived from a childhood version of "Louisa." Her first novel, Granville de Vigne (renamed Held in Bondage, 1863), was first published serially in 1861-63. Her stirring narrative style and a refreshing lack of sermonizing caught the public's fancy and made her books extraordinarily..
Barbara Pym, (born June 2, 1913, Oswestry, Shropshire, Eng.--died Jan. 11, 1980, Oxford), English novelist, a recorder of post-World War II upper middle-class life, whose elegant and satiric comedies of manners are marked by poignant observation and psychological insight.Pym was educated at Huyton College, Liverpool, and at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. She worked for the International African Institute in London from 1946 until she retired in 1974 and edited the anthropological journal Africa for more than 20 years. In her novels Pym rejected overt drama and emotionalism and instead..
Alfred Austin, (born May 30, 1835, Leeds, Yorkshire, Eng.--died June 2, 1913, Ashford, Kent), English poet and journalist who succeeded Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as poet laureate.After a devoutly Roman Catholic upbringing and a brief career as a lawyer, Austin inherited money and published a lively and well-received satirical poem, The Season (1861). As his religious faith declined into agnosticism (a process described in his verse autobiography, The Door of Humility ), his interest in politics grew. In 1866 he began to write for the Tory Standard and in 1883 became the founding editor..
Robert Bridges, in full Robert Seymour Bridges, (born October 23, 1844, Walmer, Kent, England--died April 21, 1930, Boar's Hill, Oxford), English poet noted for his technical mastery of prosody and for his sponsorship of the poetry of his friend Gerard Manley Hopkins.Born of a prosperous landed family, Bridges went to Eton College and then to Oxford, where he met Hopkins. His edition of Hopkins' poetry that appeared in 1916 rescued it from obscurity.From 1869 until 1882 Bridges worked as a medical student and physician in London hospitals. In 1884 he married Mary Monica Waterhouse, and he spent..
John Florio, also called Giovanni Florio, (born c. 1553, London--died c. 1625, Fulham, near London), English lexicographer and translator of Montaigne.Son of a Protestant refugee of Tuscan origin, Florio studied at Oxford. From 1604 to 1619 Florio was groom of the privy chamber to Queen Anne.In 1580 he translated, as Navigations and Discoveries (1580), Giovanni Battista Ramusio's account of the voyages of Jacques Cartier. Florio His Firste Fruites (1578), a grammar and a series of dialogues in Italian and English, was followed in 1591 by Florio's Second Frutes and by Giardino di ricreatione,..
Thomas Sprat, (born 1635, Beaminster, Dorset, Eng.--died May 20, 1713, Bromley, Kent), English man of letters, bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster. A prose stylist, wit, and founding member and historian of the Royal Society, he is chiefly remembered for his influence on language reform and for his biography of the poet Abraham Cowley. Sprat was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, a centre of scientific learning in the 17th century. In his History of the Royal Society of London (1667), a propagandist defense rather than a factual account of the new scientific society, he criticizes..
Vita Sackville-West, byname of Victoria Mary Sackville-West, married name Victoria Mary Nicolson, (born March 9, 1892, Knole, Kent, England--died June 2, 1962, Sissinghurst Castle, Kent), English novelist and poet who wrote chiefly about the Kentish countryside, where she spent most of her life.She was the daughter of the 3rd Baron Sackville and a granddaughter of Pepita, a Spanish dancer, whose story she told in Pepita (1937). In 1913 she married Harold Nicolson, a diplomat and author. Her poetic gift for evoking the beauty of the English countryside was recognized in her long poem The Land..
William Shenstone, (born Nov. 18, 1714, Leasowes, Halesowen, Shropshire, Eng.--died Feb. 11, 1763, Leasowes), a representative 18th-century English "man of taste." As a poet, amateur landscape gardener, and collector, he influenced the trend away from Neoclassical formality in the direction of greater naturalness and simplicity.From 1745, in response to the current vogue for the ferme ornee ("ornamental farm"; i.e., one that was as picturesque as it was profitable), he devoted his chief energies to beautifying his estate, the Leasowes, by "landscape gardening," a term he was the first..
Alec Waugh, byname of Alexander Raban Waugh, (born July 8, 1898, Hampstead, London--died Sept. 3, 1981, Tampa, Fla., U.S.), English popular novelist and travel writer, older brother of the writer Evelyn Waugh.Waugh was educated at Sherborne, from which he was expelled, and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. While only 17, he wrote The Loom of Youth (1917), a novel about public school life that created a considerable stir and was responsible for his brother Evelyn's being sent to Lancing rather than following him to Sherborne. During World War I he served in France and was taken prisoner...
Laurence Housman, (born July 18, 1865, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Eng.--died Feb. 20, 1959, Glastonbury, Somerset), English artist and writer who reached his widest public with a series of plays about the Victorian era, of which the most successful was Victoria Regina (1934). A younger brother of the poet A.E. Housman, he studied art in London.Among Housman's earliest works were illustrations for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and Other Poems. His first writings were fairy tales and poems, which he illustrated himself. His first play, Bethlehem, was privately produced by Gordon..
Walter de la Mare, in full Walter John de la Mare, (born April 25, 1873, Charlton, Kent, England--died June 22, 1956, Twickenham, Middlesex), British poet and novelist with an unusual power to evoke the ghostly, evanescent moments in life.De la Mare was educated at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School in London, and from 1890 to 1908 he worked in the London office of the Anglo-American Oil Company. From 1902, however, when his poetry collection Songs of Childhood appeared under the pseudonym Walter Ramal, he devoted himself increasingly to writing. His first novel, Henry Brocken, was published..
Robert Shaw, (born August 9, 1927, Westhoughton, Lancashire, England--died August 28, 1978, Tourmakeady, Ireland), English actor, novelist, and playwright who first garnered attention for his performances in Shakespearean plays before launching a successful film career.Shaw began his career with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, where he performed in Macbeth, Cymbeline, Henry VIII, and other Shakespeare plays, touring Australia with the company in 1949-50. With the Old Vic company (1951-52), he continued primarily in Shakespearean roles. In 1955 Shaw began..
Coventry Patmore, in full Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore, (born July 23, 1823, Woodford, Essex, England--died November 26, 1896, Lymington, Hampshire), English poet and essayist whose best poetry is in The Unknown Eros, and Other Odes, containing mystical odes of divine love and of married love, which he saw as a reflection of Christ's love for the soul.After his father fled to France to escape his creditors, Patmore obtained a position in the library of the British Museum, London, and worked there for 19 years. He published a vast novel in verse, telling the story of two marriages, beginning..
Christopher Fry, original name Christopher Harris, (born December 18, 1907, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England--died June 30, 2005, Chichester, West Sussex), British writer of verse plays.Fry adopted his mother's surname after he became a schoolteacher at age 18, his father having died many years earlier. He was an actor, director, and writer of revues and plays before he gained fame as a playwright for The Lady's Not for Burning (1948), an ironic comedy set in medieval times whose heroine is charged with being a witch. A Phoenix Too Frequent (1946) retells a tale from Petronius Arbiter. The..
Charlotte Smith, nee Turner, (born May 4, 1749, London, Eng.--died Oct. 28, 1806, Tilford, near Farnham, Surrey), English novelist and poet, highly praised by the novelist Sir Walter Scott. Her poetic attitude toward nature was reminiscent of William Cowper's in celebrating the "ordinary" pleasures of the English countryside. Her radical attitudes toward conventional morality (the novel Desmond tells of the innocent love of a man for a married woman) and political ideas of class equality (inspired by the French Revolution) gained her notoriety, but her work belongs essentially with that..
Alice Meynell, in full Alice Christiana Gertrude Meynell, nee Thompson, (born October 11, 1847, Barnes, near London, England--died November 27, 1922, London), English poet and essayist.Much of Meynell's childhood was spent in Italy, and about 1868 she converted to Roman Catholicism, which was strongly reflected in her writing. Encouraged by Alfred Tennyson and Coventry Patmore, she published her first volume of poems, Preludes, in 1875. She subsequently published Poems (1893) and Later Poems (1902); Last Poems (1923) was published posthumously.One sonnet, "My Heart Shall Be Thy Garden,"..
Francis Thompson, (born Dec. 18, 1859, Preston, Lancashire, Eng.--died Nov. 13, 1907, London), English poet of the 1890s, whose most famous poem, "The Hound of Heaven," describes the pursuit of the human soul by God.Thompson was educated in the Roman Catholic faith at Ushaw College, a seminary in the north of England. He studied medicine at Manchester, but not conscientiously, and began to take opium; he then went to London, where from 1885 to 1888 he lived in destitution. In 1888 the publication of two of his poems in Wilfrid Meynell's periodical, Merry England, aroused the admiration of Robert..
Francis Quarles, (baptized May 8, 1592, Romford, Essex, England--died September 8, 1644, London), religious poet remembered for his Emblemes, the most notable emblem book in English.The son of a minor court official, Quarles was educated at the University of Cambridge and at Lincoln's Inn, London. The wealth of Quarles's family at first allowed him to live a leisured and studious life, but in the late 1620s he served as secretary to Archbishop James Ussher in Ireland. In 1640 Quarles became chronologer to London, virtually abandoning poetry to employ his pen more lucratively. He died in relative..
William Inge, in full William Motter Inge, (born May 3, 1913, Independence, Kan., U.S.--died June 10, 1973, Hollywood Hills, Calif.), American playwright best known for his plays Come Back, Little Sheba (1950; filmed 1952); Picnic (1953; filmed 1956), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize; and Bus Stop (1955; filmed 1956).Inge was educated at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn. He taught school from 1937 to 1949, also serving as drama editor of the Star-Times in St. Louis, Mo., from 1943 to 1946. His first play, Farther Off from Heaven..
Samuel Rogers, (born July 30, 1763, Stoke Newington, near London--died Dec. 18, 1855, London), English poet, best remembered as a witty conversationalist and as a friend of greater poets.Rogers attained eminence with the publication of his popular discursive poem The Pleasures of Memory (1792). On his father's death (1793) he inherited a banking firm, and for the next half century he maintained an influential position as a leading figure in London society and as a generous host to brilliant company. His acquisition of paintings and objets d'art made his home a centre for anyone ambitious to..
John Masefield, (born June 1, 1878, Ledbury, Herefordshire, Eng.--died May 12, 1967, near Abingdon, Berkshire), poet, best known for his poems of the sea, Salt-Water Ballads (1902, including "Sea Fever" and "Cargoes"), and for his long narrative poems, such as The Everlasting Mercy (1911), which shocked literary orthodoxy with its phrases of a colloquial coarseness hitherto unknown in 20th-century English verse.Educated at King's School, Warwick, Masefield was apprenticed aboard a windjammer that sailed around Cape Horn. He left the sea after that voyage and spent several years living..
Thomas Love Peacock, (born Oct. 18, 1785, Weymouth, Dorset, Eng.--died Jan. 23, 1866, Lower Halliford, Middlesex), English author who satirized the intellectual tendencies of his day in novels in which conversation predominates over character or plot. His best verse is interspersed in his novels.Peacock met Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812, and the two became such close friends that Shelley made Peacock executor of his will. Peacock spent several months near the Shelleys at Great Marlow in 1817, a period of great importance to his development as a writer. The ideas that lie behind many of the witty..
Israel Zangwill, (born February 14, 1864, London, England--died August 1, 1926, Midhurst, West Sussex), novelist, playwright, and Zionist leader, one of the earliest English interpreters of Jewish immigrant life.The son of eastern European immigrants, Zangwill grew up in London's East End and was educated at the Jews' Free School and at the University of London. His early writings were on popular subjects of his day, but with Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People (1892), he drew on his intimate knowledge of ghetto life to present a gallery of Dickensian portraits of Whitechapel..
William Warburton, (born Dec. 24, 1698, Newark, Nottinghamshire, Eng.--died 1779, Gloucester, Gloucestershire), Anglican bishop of Gloucester, literary critic and controversialist.Ordained priest in 1727, Warburton was appointed to the parish of Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire, the following year. During his 18 years at Brant Broughton, Warburton wrote The Alliance Between Church and State (1736) and The Divine Legation of Moses, 2 vol. (1737-41). In The Alliance he advocated tolerance by the established Anglican church for those whose beliefs and worship were at variance. In The..
Austin Dobson, in full Henry Austin Dobson, (born Jan. 18, 1840, Plymouth, Devonshire, Eng.--died Sept. 2, 1921, London), English poet, critic, and biographer whose love and knowledge of the 18th century lent a graceful elegance to his poetry and inspired his critical studies.Educated in Strasbourg, France, Dobson became in 1856 a civil servant at the British Board of Trade, where he remained until his retirement in 1901. He began to publish poetry in magazines in 1864, and in the 1870s he played an important part in the revival of intricate medieval French verse forms (the triolet, the rondeau,..
Edward Carpenter, (born Aug. 29, 1844, Brighton, Sussex, Eng.--died June 28, 1929, Guildford, Surrey), English writer identified with social and sexual reform and the late 19th-century anti-industrial Arts and Crafts Movement.Carpenter was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he was elected a fellow and ordained in 1869. In 1870 he became the theologian Frederick Denison Maurice's curate. But in 1874, revolting against the social and religious conventions of his time, he became a traveling lecturer for the newly founded university extension movement, teaching in industrial..
Rupert Brooke, (born Aug. 3, 1887, Rugby, Warwickshire, Eng.--died April 23, 1915, Skyros, Greece), English poet, a wellborn, gifted, handsome youth whose early death in World War I contributed to his idealized image in the interwar period. His best-known work is the sonnet sequence 1914.At school at Rugby, where his father was a master, Brooke distinguished himself as a cricket and football (soccer) player as well as a scholar. At King's College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1906, he was prominent in the Fabian (Socialist) Society and attracted innumerable friends. He studied in..
Wilkie Collins, in full William Wilkie Collins, (born Jan. 8, 1824, London, Eng.--died Sept. 23, 1889, London), English sensation novelist, early master of the mystery story, and pioneer of detective fiction.The son of William Collins (1788-1847), the landscape painter, he developed a gift for inventing tales while still a schoolboy at a private boarding school. His first published work was a memoir to his father, who died in 1847, Memoirs of the Life of William Collins, Esq., R.A. (1848). His fiction followed shortly after: Antonina; or, the Fall of Rome (1850) and Basil (1852), a highly coloured..
James Shirley, (born September 1596, London, Eng.--buried Oct. 29, 1666, London), English poet and dramatist, one of the leading playwrights in the decade before the closing of the theatres by Parliament in 1642.Shirley was educated at the University of Cambridge and after his ordination became master of the St. Albans Grammar School. About 1624 he moved to London and became a playwright. His first play, The Schoole of Complement, was performed in 1625 at the Phoenix, Drury Lane. When the theatres closed in 1636 as a precaution against further spread of the plague, Shirley became dramatist..
John Cleveland, (born June 16, 1613, Loughborough, Leicestershire, Eng.--died April 29, 1658, London), English poet, the most popular of his time, and then and in later times the most commonly abused Metaphysical poet.Educated at Cambridge, Cleveland became a fellow there before joining the Royalist army at Oxford in 1643. In 1645-46 he was judge advocate with the garrison at Newark until it surrendered to the Parliamentary forces, after which he lived with friends. When Charles I put himself in the hands of the Scots' army and they turned him over to the Parliamentary forces, Cleveland excoriated..
Richard Aldington, original name Edward Godfree Aldington, (born July 8, 1892, Hampshire, Eng.--died July 27, 1962, Sury-en-Vaus, France), poet, novelist, critic, and biographer who wrote searingly and sometimes irascibly of what he considered to be hypocrisy in modern industrialized civilization.Educated at Dover College and London University, Aldington early attracted attention through his volumes of Imagist verse (see Imagists). In 1913 he married Hilda Doolittle (H.D.; divorced 1938), the American Imagist poet. Aldington's contribution is difficult to assess. His best and..
Richard Jefferies, in full John Richard Jefferies, (born November 6, 1848, near Swindon, Wiltshire, England--died August 14, 1887, Goring-by-Sea, Sussex), English naturalist, novelist, and essayist whose best work combines fictional invention with expert observation of the natural world.The son of a yeoman farmer, Jefferies in 1866 became a reporter on the North Wilts Herald. In 1872 he became famous for a 4,000-word letter to The Times about the Wiltshire agricultural labourer and his lot. Soon periodicals and papers (notably the Pall Mall Gazette) were publishing his sketches and..
Douglas Adams, in full Douglas Noel Adams, (born March 11, 1952, Cambridge, Eng.--died May 11, 2001, Santa Barbara, Calif., U.S.), British comic writer whose works satirize contemporary life through a luckless protagonist who deals ineptly with societal forces beyond his control. Adams is best known for the mock science-fiction series known collectively as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.Adams received an M.A. (1974) in English literature from the University of Cambridge, where he wrote comedy sketches for the performing arts society. He was a writer and script editor for the television..
Colin Wilson, in full Colin Henry Wilson, (born June 26, 1931, Leicester, Leicestershire, England--died December 5, 2013, St. Austell, Cornwall, England), English novelist and writer on philosophy, sociology, music, literature, and the occult.Wilson left school at age 16. He subsequently worked as a laboratory assistant, civil servant, labourer, dishwasher, and factory worker. For a short while, until discharged on medical grounds, he served in the Royal Air Force (1949-50). He lived in Paris and Strasbourg (1950-51) and was working in a coffee bar while he wrote his first book, The Outsider..
William Hone, (born June 3, 1780, Bath, Somerset, England--died November 6, 1842, Tottenham, London), English radical journalist, bookseller, publisher, and satirist, notable for his attacks on political and social abuses. He is remembered primarily for his struggle for the freedom of the English press.Hone taught himself to read from the Bible and became a solicitor's clerk. A radical from 1796, he produced two weekly newspapers, The Traveller (1814-15) and The Reformist's Register (1816-17), in which he exposed injustice and supported extension of the franchise. His report on lunatic..
Richard Lovelace, (born 1618--died 1657, London), English poet, soldier, and Royalist whose graceful lyrics and dashing career made him the prototype of the perfect Cavalier.Lovelace was probably born in the Netherlands, where his father was in military service. He was educated at Charterhouse and Oxford, and at age 16 or possibly a little later he wrote The Scholars, a comedy acted at Whitefriars, of which the prologue and epilogue survive. He took part in the expeditions to Scotland (1639-40) at the time of the rebellions against Charles I. During this period he is said to have written a tragedy,..
Charles Churchill, (born February 1731, London, Eng.--died Nov. 4, 1764, Boulogne, France), English poet noted for his lampoons and polemical satires written in heroic couplets.Churchill was educated at Westminster School. Although he was delayed in taking orders by an early and imprudent marriage, he was ordained in 1756 and, in 1758, on his father's death, succeeded him as curate of a Westminster parish. In 1761 or 1762 he became friends with the champion of liberty of the press, John Wilkes, and his collaboration with Wilkes thereafter earned him an honourable place in the history of parliamentary..
Benjamin Jowett, (born April 15, 1817, London, England--died October 1, 1893, Headley Park, Hampshire), British classical scholar, considered to be one of the greatest teachers of the 19th century. He was renowned for his translations of Plato and as an outstanding tutor of great influence who became master of Balliol College, Oxford.Jowett was educated at St. Paul's School, London, and Balliol. He was made a fellow at Balliol in 1838 and was appointed a tutor in the college in 1842, the year in which he was ordained an Anglican deacon. He was ordained priest three years later.In 1855 Jowett finished..
Arthur Hugh Clough, (born Jan. 1, 1819, Liverpool--died Nov. 13, 1861, Florence), poet whose work reflects the perplexity and religious doubt of mid-19th century England. He was a friend of Matthew Arnold and the subject of Arnold's commemorative elegy "Thyrsis."While at Oxford, Clough had intended to become a clergyman, but his increasing religious skepticism caused him to leave the university. He became head of University Hall, London, in 1849, and in 1852, at the invitation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he spent several months lecturing in Massachusetts. He later worked as a government education..
Isaac Watts, (born July 17, 1674, Southampton, Hampshire, England--died November 25, 1748, Stoke Newington, London), English Nonconformist minister, regarded as the father of English hymnody.Watts, whose father was a Nonconformist, studied at the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington, London, which he left in 1694. In 1696 he became tutor to the family of Sir John Hartopp of Stoke Newington (a centre of religious dissent) and of Freeby, Leicestershire, and preached his first sermons in the family chapel at Freeby. He was appointed assistant to the minister of Mark Lane Independent (i.e.,..
James Northcote, in full Thomas James Northcote, (born Oct. 22, 1746, Plymouth, Devon, Eng.--died July 13, 1831, London), English portraitist and historical painter.Northcote was apprenticed to his father, a poor watchmaker of Plymouth, and, during his spare hours, learned to use paintbrush and pencil. In 1769 he left his father and started as a portrait painter. Four years later he went to London and was admitted as a pupil into the studio and house of the great portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 1775 he left Reynolds, and about two years later, having acquired the necessary funds by portrait..
William Golding, in full Sir William Gerald Golding, (born September 19, 1911, St. Columb Minor, near Newquay, Cornwall, England--died June 19, 1993, Perranarworthal, near Falmouth, Cornwall), English novelist who in 1983 won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his parables of the human condition. He attracted a cult of followers, especially among the youth of the post-World War II generation.Educated at Marlborough Grammar School, where his father taught, and at Brasenose College, Oxford, Golding graduated in 1935. After working in a settlement house and in small theatre companies,..
George Chapman, (born 1559?, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Eng.--died May 12, 1634, London), English poet and dramatist, whose translation of Homer long remained the standard English version.Chapman attended the University of Oxford but took no degree. By 1585 he was working in London for the wealthy commoner Sir Ralph Sadler and probably traveled to the Low Countries at this time. His first work was The Shadow of Night . . . Two Poeticall Hymnes (1593), followed in 1595 by Ovids Banquet of Sence. Both philosophize on the value of an ordered life. His poem in praise of Sir Walter Raleigh, De Guiana,..
John Betjeman, in full Sir John Betjeman, (born August 28, 1906, London, England--died May 19, 1984, Trebetherick, Cornwall), British poet known for his nostalgia for the near past, his exact sense of place, and his precise rendering of social nuance, which made him widely read in England at a time when much of what he wrote about was rapidly vanishing. The poet, in near-Tennysonian rhythms, satirized lightly the promoters of empty and often destructive "progress" and the foibles of his own comfortable class. As an authority on English architecture and topography, he did much to popularize..
Thomas Ken, (born July 1637, Berkhampsted, Hertfordshire, England--died March 19, 1711, near Warminster, Wiltshire), Anglican bishop, hymn writer, royal chaplain to Charles II of England, and one of seven bishops who in 1688 opposed James II's Declaration of Indulgence, which was designed to promote Roman Catholicism.Ordained about 1661, Ken held several ecclesiastical positions until 1669, when he became a prebendary of Winchester Cathedral. In 1679 Ken was appointed chaplain to Princess Mary of York, wife of Prince William of Orange and daughter of James, duke of York, who later became..
Edward FitzGerald, (born March 31, 1809, Bredfield, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eng.--died June 14, 1883, Merton, Norfolk), English writer, best known for his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which, though it is a very free adaptation and selection from the Persian poet's verses, stands on its own as a classic of English literature. It is one of the most frequently quoted of lyric poems, and many of its phrases, such as "A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou" and "The moving finger writes," passed into common currency.FitzGerald was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he formed a lifelong..
Edward Lear, (born May 12, 1812, Highgate, near London, England--died January 29, 1888, San Remo, Italy), English landscape painter who is more widely known as the writer of an original kind of nonsense verse and as the popularizer of the limerick. His true genius is apparent in his nonsense poems, which portray a world of fantastic creatures in nonsense words, often suggesting a deep underlying sense of melancholy. Their quality is matched, especially in the limericks, by that of his engaging pen-and-ink drawings.The youngest of 21 children, Lear was brought up by his eldest sister, Ann, and..
Thomas Hood, (born May 23, 1799, London--died May 3, 1845, London), English poet, journalist, and humorist whose humanitarian verses, such as "The Song of the Shirt" (1843), served as models for a whole school of social-protest poets, not only in Britain and the United States but in Germany and Russia, where he was widely translated. He also is notable as a writer of comic verse, having originated several durable forms for that genre.The son of a London bookseller, Hood became a "sort of sub-editor" of the London Magazine (1821-23) during its heyday, when its circle of brilliant contributors..
Robert Smith Surtees, (born May 17, 1805, The Riding, Northumberland, Eng.--died March 16, 1864, Brighton, Sussex), English novelist of the chase and the creator of Mr. Jorrocks, one of the great comic characters of English literature, a Cockney grocer who is as blunt as John Bull and entirely given over to fox hunting.A younger son, Surtees worked as a lawyer until he inherited his family's estate in 1838. But riding to hounds was his passion, and nearly all his writing involved horses and riding. Surtees' earliest works were published in The Sporting Magazine, and in 1831, with Rudolph Ackermann..
Harriet Martineau, (born June 12, 1802, Norwich, Norfolk, England--died June 27, 1876, near Ambleside, Westmorland), essayist, novelist, journalist, and economic and historical writer who was prominent among English intellectuals of her time. Perhaps her most scholarly work is The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, Freely Translated and Condensed, 2 vol. (1853), her version of Comte's Cours de philosophie positive, 6 vol. (1830-42).Martineau first gained a large reading public with a series of stories popularizing classical economics, especially the ideas of Thomas Robert Malthus..
Agatha Christie, in full Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, nee Miller, (born September 15, 1890, Torquay, Devon, England--died January 12, 1976, Wallingford, Oxfordshire), English detective novelist and playwright whose books have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into some 100 languages.Educated at home by her mother, Christie began writing detective fiction while working as a nurse during World War I. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced Hercule Poirot, her eccentric and egotistic Belgian detective; Poirot reappeared in..
Elinor Glyn, nee Sutherland, (born Oct. 17, 1864, Jersey, Channel Islands--died Sept. 23, 1943, London), English novelist and short-story writer known for her highly romantic tales with luxurious settings and improbable plots.As a young child Glyn read widely and precociously in her family library. Although she did not have any formal education, such friends as Lord Curzon, Lord Milner, and F.H. Bradley later filled in the gaps of her knowledge.Her first book, The Visits of Elizabeth, was an epistolary novel, consisting of a group of letters from a young girl to her mother, that described..
Kingsley Amis, in full Sir Kingsley Amis, (born April 16, 1922, London, England--died October 22, 1995, London), novelist, poet, critic, and teacher who created in his first novel, Lucky Jim, a comic figure that became a household word in Great Britain in the 1950s.Amis was educated at the City of London School and at St. John's College, Oxford (B.A., 1949). His education was interrupted during World War II by his service as a lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals. From 1949 to 1961 he taught at universities in Wales, England, and the United States.Amis's first novel, Lucky Jim (1954, filmed..
Charles Wesley, (born Dec. 18, 1707, Epworth, Lincolnshire, Eng.--died March 29, 1788, London), English clergyman, poet, and hymn writer, who, with his elder brother John, started the Methodist movement in the Church of England.The youngest and third surviving son of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, Wesley entered Westminster School, London, in 1716. In 1726 he was elected to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he translated Greek and Latin classics into English verse. During the winter of 1728-29, he underwent a spiritual awakening and initiated, with two other undergraduates, the Holy Club...
John Keble, (born April 25, 1792, Fairford, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died March 29, 1866, Bournemouth, Hampshire), Anglican priest, theologian, and poet who originated and helped lead the Oxford Movement (q.v.), which sought to revive in Anglicanism the High Church ideals of the later 17th-century church.Ordained in 1816, Keble was educated at the University of Oxford and served as a tutor there from 1818 to 1823, when he left to assist in his father's parish. In 1827 he published The Christian Year, a volume of poems for Sundays and festivals of the church year. Widely circulated, the book..
Joseph Hall, (born July 1, 1574, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, Eng.--died Sept. 8, 1656, Higham, Norfolk), English bishop, moral philosopher, and satirist, remarkable for his literary versatility and innovations.Hall's Virgidemiarum: Six Books (1597-1602; "A Harvest of Blows") was the first English satire successfully modeled on Latin satire, and its couplets anticipated the satiric heroic couplets of John Dryden in the late 17th century. Hall was also the first writer in English to emulate Theophrastus, an ancient Greek philosopher who wrote a book of characters, with Characters..
Enid Blyton, in full Enid Mary Blyton, (born August 11, 1897, East Dulwich, London, England--died November 28, 1968, Hampstead, London), prolific and highly popular British author of stories, poems, plays, and educational books for children.Blyton, the daughter of a businessman, abandoned her early studies in music to train as a schoolteacher at the Ipswich High School (1916-18). Her first publication was a poem that appeared in a children's magazine when she was only 14, and in 1917 another of her poems was published in Nash's Magazine. Blyton worked briefly as a teacher and governess, but..
Mark Akenside, (born Nov. 9, 1721, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, Eng.--died June 23, 1770, London), poet and physician, best known for his poem The Pleasures of Imagination, an eclectic philosophical essay that takes as its starting point papers on the same subject written by Joseph Addison for The Spectator. Written in blank verse derived from Milton's, it was modelled (as its preface states) on the Roman poets Virgil (the Georgics) and Horace (the Epistles). A debt to Virgil is certainly apparent in the way in which Akenside invests an essentially unpoetic subject--the abstractions..
Evelyn Waugh, in full Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh, (born October 28, 1903, London, England--died April 10, 1966, Combe Florey, near Taunton, Somerset), English writer regarded by many as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his day.Waugh was educated at Lancing College, Sussex, and at Hertford College, Oxford. After short periods as an art student and schoolmaster, he devoted himself to solitary observant travel and to the writing of novels, soon earning a wide reputation for sardonic wit and technical brilliance. During World War II he served in the Royal Marines and the Royal Horse..
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William Thomas Stead, (born July 5, 1849, Embleton, Northumberland, England--died April 15, 1912, at sea, North Atlantic), British journalist, editor, and publisher who founded the noted periodical Review of Reviews (1890).Stead was educated at home by his father, a clergyman, until he was 12 years old and then attended Silcoates School at Wakefield. He became an apprentice in a merchant's countinghouse and in about 1870 began to contribute to the Liberal daily newspaper Northern Echo at Darlington. The following year he was invited to become the Echo's editor. He and the paper diligently..
Thomas Kyd, (baptized Nov. 6, 1558, London, Eng.--died c. December 1594, London), English dramatist who, with his The Spanish Tragedy (sometimes called Hieronimo, or Jeronimo, after its protagonist), initiated the revenge tragedy of his day. Kyd anticipated the structure of many later plays, including the development of middle and final climaxes. In addition, he revealed an instinctive sense of tragic situation, while his characterization of Hieronimo in The Spanish Tragedy prepared the way for Shakespeare's psychological study of Hamlet.The son of a scrivener, Kyd was educated at..
Max Beerbohm, in full Sir Max Beerbohm, original name Henry Maximilian Beerbohm, (born August 24, 1872, London, England--died May 20, 1956, Rapallo, Italy), English caricaturist, writer, dandy, and wit whose sophisticated drawings and parodies were unique in capturing, usually without malice, whatever was pretentious, affected, or absurd in his famous and fashionable contemporaries. He was called by George Bernard Shaw "the incomparable Max."A younger half brother of the actor-producer Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, he was accustomed to fashionable society from his boyhood. While still..
William Ernest Henley, (born Aug. 23, 1849, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died July 11, 1903, Woking, near London), British poet, critic, and editor who in his journals introduced the early work of many of the great English writers of the 1890s.Son of a Gloucester bookseller and a pupil of the poet T.E. Brown, Henley contracted a tubercular disease that later necessitated the amputation of one foot. His other leg was saved only through the skill and radical new methods of the surgeon Joseph Lister, whom he sought out in Edinburgh. Forced to stay in an infirmary in Edinburgh for 20 months..
Thomas Fuller, (born June 19, 1608, Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, Eng.--died Aug. 16, 1661, London), British scholar, preacher, and one of the most witty and prolific authors of the 17th century.Fuller was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (M.A., 1628; B.D., 1635). Achieving great repute in the pulpit, he was appointed preacher at the Chapel Royal, Savoy, London, in 1641. He officiated there until 1643, when the deteriorating political situation, which had led to the first battles of the English Civil Wars a year before, forced him to leave London for Oxford.For a time during the fighting,..
Ernest Dowson, in full Ernest Christopher Dowson, (born Aug. 2, 1867, Lee, Kent, Eng.--died Feb. 23, 1900, Lewisham, London), one of the most gifted of the circle of English poets of the 1890s known as the Decadents.In 1886 Dowson entered Queen's College, Oxford, but left in 1888 to spend six years working at his father's dry dock in the Limehouse district of London. Dowson became an active member of the Rhymers' Club, a group of writers that included William Butler Yeats and Arthur Symons. In 1891 he met the woman who would inspire some of his best poetry, Adelaide Foltinowicz, whose parents kept..
Thomas Dekker, (born c. 1572, London, Eng.--died c. 1632), English dramatist and writer of prose pamphlets who is particularly known for his lively depictions of London life.Few facts of Dekker's life are certain. He may have been born into a family of Dutch immigrants living in London and is first mentioned as a playwright in 1598. He apparently wrote to support himself, and he had a hand in at least 42 plays written in the next 30 years. In the dispute known as "the poets' war" or "the war of the theatres," he was satirized in Ben Jonson's Poetaster (produced 1601) as Demetrius Fannius, "a very simple..
William Collins, (born Dec. 25, 1721, Chichester, Sussex, Eng.--died June 12, 1759, Chichester), pre-Romantic English poet whose lyrical odes adhered to Neoclassical forms but were Romantic in theme and feeling. Though his literary career was brief and his output slender, he is considered one of the finest English lyric poets of the 18th century.He was educated at Winchester College, where he formed one of the most stable and fruitful relationships of his unstable life: his friendship with the poet and critic Joseph Warton. When only 17, under the influence of Pope's Pastorals, he composed..
Ted Hughes, byname of Edward J. Hughes, (born August 17, 1930, Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, England--died October 28, 1998, London), English poet whose most characteristic verse is without sentimentality, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life in harsh, sometimes disjunctive lines.At Pembroke College, Cambridge, he found folklore and anthropology of particular interest, a concern that was reflected in a number of his poems. In 1956 he married the American poet Sylvia Plath. The couple moved to the United States in 1957, the year that his first volume of verse, The Hawk in the Rain,..
George Henry Lewes, (born April 18, 1817, London, Eng.--died Nov. 28, 1878, London), English biographer, literary critic, dramatist, novelist, philosopher, actor, scientist, and editor, remembered chiefly for his decades-long liaison with the novelist Mary Ann Evans (better known by her pseudonym, George Eliot).After a desultory education, Lewes spent two years in Germany and returned to London in 1840. During the next decade he wrote frequently for various journals and in the early 1840s corresponded with John Stuart Mill, through whom he became acquainted with the positivist philosophy..
Charles Kingsley, (born June 12, 1819, Holne Vicarage, Devon, England--died January 23, 1875, Eversley, Hampshire), Anglican clergyman and writer whose successful fiction ranged from social-problem novels to historical romances and children's literature.The son of a clergyman, he grew up in Devon, where he developed an interest in nature study and geology. After graduating from Magdalene College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1842 as curate of Eversley and two years later became parish priest there. Much influenced by the theologian Frederick Denison Maurice, he became in 1848 a founding..
Thomas Otway, (born March 3, 1652, Trotton, near Midhurst, Sussex, Eng.--died April 14, 1685, London), English dramatist and poet, one of the forerunners of sentimental drama through his convincing presentation of human emotions in an age of heroic but artificial tragedies. His masterpiece, Venice Preserved, was one of the greatest theatrical successes of his period.Otway studied at Winchester College and at the University of Oxford but left in 1671 without taking a degree. He went to London, where he was offered a part by Aphra Behn in one of her plays. He was overcome by stage fright, and his..
Thomas Shadwell, (born 1642?, Norfolk, England--died November 19, 1692, London), English dramatist and poet laureate, known for his broad comedies of manners and as the butt of John Dryden's satire.Educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and at the Middle Temple, London, after the Restoration (1660) Shadwell became one of the court wits and an acquaintance of Sir Robert Howard and his brother, Edward. He satirized both Howards in The Sullen Lovers (1668), an adaptation of Moliere's Les Facheux.Shadwell wrote 18 plays, including a pastoral, The Royal Shepherdess (1669), an opera, The Enchanted..
Anthony Burgess, also called Joseph Kell, original name John Anthony Burgess Wilson, (born February 25, 1917, Manchester, England--died November 22, 1993, London), English novelist, critic, and man of letters whose fictional explorations of modern dilemmas combine wit, moral earnestness, and a note of the bizarre.Trained in English literature and phonetics, Burgess taught in the extramural department of Birmingham University (1946-50), worked for the Ministry of Education (1948-50), and was English master at Banbury Grammar School (1950-54). He then served as education officer..
John Clare, (born July 13, 1793, Helpston, near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England--died May 20, 1864, Northampton, Northamptonshire), English peasant poet of the Romantic school.Clare was the son of a labourer and began work on local farms at the age of seven. Though he had limited access to books, his poetic gift, which revealed itself early, was nourished by his parents' store of folk ballads. Clare was an energetic autodidact, and his first verses were much influenced by the Scottish poet James Thomson. Early disappointment in love--for Mary Joyce, the daughter of a prosperous..
Thomas Middleton, (born April? 1580, London, Eng.--died July 4, 1627, Newington Butts, Surrey), late-Elizabethan dramatist who drew people as he saw them, with comic gusto or searching irony.By 1600 Middleton had spent two years at Oxford and had published three books of verse. He learned to write plays by collaborating with Thomas Dekker, John Webster, and others for the producer Philip Henslowe.A popular playwright, he was often commissioned to write and produce lord mayor's pageants and other civic entertainments, and in 1620 he was appointed city chronologer. His chief stage success..
Sydney Smith, (born June 3, 1771, Woodford, Essex, Eng.--died Feb. 22, 1845, London), one of the foremost English preachers of his day, and a champion of parliamentary reform. Through his writings he perhaps did more than anyone else to change public opinion regarding Roman Catholic emancipation. Smith was also famous for his wit and charm.Smith's father refused to let him study law, and after leaving Oxford he was ordained in the Church of England. He later attended lectures in moral philosophy, chemistry, and medicine at the University of Edinburgh. There he made many friends, among them..
Julian Fellowes, in full Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, (born August 17, 1949, Cairo, Egypt), British actor, producer, novelist, and screenwriter best known for creating the television series Downton Abbey (2010-15).Fellowes was born in Egypt, where his father was with the British embassy. While attending Magdalene College, Cambridge, he joined the Footlights comedy group. He then studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Beginning in the mid-1970s, he played character roles in scores of television series and movies; he..
Philip Massinger, (born 1583, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England--died March 1639/40, London), English Jacobean and Caroline playwright noted for his gifts of comedy, plot construction, social realism, and satirical power.Besides the documentation of his baptism at St. Thomas's Church, Salisbury, it is known that Massinger attended St. Alban Hall, Oxford, in 1602, but nothing certain is known about his life from then until 1613, when he was in prison for debt. Bailed out by the theatrical impresario Philip Henslowe, he spent a period working as the junior partner in coauthored plays,..
Leigh Hunt, in full James Henry Leigh Hunt, (born October 19, 1784, Southgate, Middlesex, England--died August 28, 1859, Putney, London), English essayist, critic, journalist, and poet, who was an editor of influential journals in an age when the periodical was at the height of its power. He was also a friend and supporter of the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. Hunt's poems, of which "Abou Ben Adhem" and his rondeau "Jenny Kissed Me" (both first published in 1838) are probably the best known, reflect his knowledge of French and Italian versification. His defense of Keats's work in the..
Robert Herrick, (baptized August 24, 1591, London, England--died October 1674, Dean Prior, Devonshire), English cleric and poet, the most original of the "sons of Ben [Jonson]," who revived the spirit of the ancient classic lyric. He is best remembered for the line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may," and he is counted among the Cavalier poets.As a boy, Herrick was apprenticed to his uncle, Sir William Herrick, a prosperous and influential goldsmith. In 1613 he went to the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1617. He took his M.A. in 1620 and was ordained in 1623. He then lived for a time in London,..
Noel Coward, in full Sir Noel Peirce Coward, (born December 16, 1899, Teddington, near London, England--died March 26, 1973, St. Mary, Jamaica), English playwright, actor, and composer best known for highly polished comedies of manners.Coward appeared professionally as an actor from the age of 12. Between acting engagements he wrote such light comedies as I'll Leave It to You (1920) and The Young Idea (1923), but his reputation as a playwright was not established until the serious play The Vortex (1924), which was highly successful in London. In 1925 the first of his durable comedies, Hay Fever,..
Walter Pater, in full Walter Horatio Pater, (born August 4, 1839, Shadwell, London, England--died July 30, 1894, Oxford, Oxfordshire), English critic, essayist, and humanist whose advocacy of "art for art's sake" became a cardinal doctrine of the movement known as Aestheticism.Pater was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Queen's College, Oxford, where he studied Greek philosophy under Benjamin Jowett. He then settled in Oxford and read with private pupils. In 1864 he was elected to a fellowship at Brasenose College. Pater's early intention to enter the church gave way at this..
George Crabbe, (born December 24, 1754, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England--died February 3, 1832, Trowbridge, Wiltshire), English writer of poems and verse tales memorable for their realistic details of everyday life.Crabbe grew up in the then-impoverished seacoast village of Aldeburgh, where his father was collector of salt duties, and he was apprenticed to a surgeon at 14. Hating his mean surroundings and unsuccessful occupation, he abandoned both in 1780 and went to London. In 1781 he wrote a desperate letter of appeal to Edmund Burke, who read Crabbe's writings and persuaded James Dodsley..
Charles Lamb, (born Feb. 10, 1775, London, Eng.--died Dec. 27, 1834, Edmonton, Middlesex), English essayist and critic, best known for his Essays of Elia (1823-33).Lamb went to school at Christ's Hospital, where he studied until 1789. He was a near contemporary there of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and of Leigh Hunt. In 1792 Lamb found employment as a clerk at East India House (the headquarters of the East India Company), remaining there until retirement in 1825. In 1796 Lamb's sister, Mary, in a fit of madness (which was to prove recurrent) killed their mother. Lamb reacted with courage and loyalty,..
Andrew Marvell, (born March 31, 1621, Winestead, Yorkshire, England--died August 18, 1678, London), English poet whose political reputation overshadowed that of his poetry until the 20th century. He is now considered to be one of the best Metaphysical poets.Marvell was educated at Hull grammar school and Trinity College, Cambridge, taking a B.A. in 1639. His father's death in 1641 may have ended Marvell's promising academic career. He was abroad for at least five years (1642-46), presumably as a tutor. In 1651-52 he was tutor to Mary, daughter of Lord Fairfax, the Parliamentary general,..
Robert Burton, (born February 8, 1577, Lindley, Leicestershire, England--died January 25, 1640, Oxford), English scholar, writer, and Anglican clergyman whose Anatomy of Melancholy is a masterpiece of style and a valuable index to the philosophical and psychological ideas of the time.Burton was educated at Oxford, elected a student (life fellow) of Christ Church (one of the colleges of the university) in 1599, and lived there the rest of his life, becoming a bachelor of divinity in 1614 and vicar of St. Thomas's Church, Oxford, in 1616. He also held livings in Lincolnshire (1624-31) and Leicestershire,..
Fanny Kemble, in full Frances Ann Kemble, (born Nov. 27, 1809, London, Eng.--died Jan. 15, 1893, London), popular English actress who is also remembered as the author of plays, poems, and reminiscences, the latter containing much information about the stage and social history of the 19th century.Kemble was the eldest daughter of actors Charles Kemble and Maria Theresa De Camp, and the niece of two of the most distinguished English actors of the later 18th century, John Philip Kemble and his sister Sarah Siddons. In order to save her father from bankruptcy, Fanny Kemble made her debut in his company..
Horace Walpole, in full Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford, original name Horatio Walpole, (born September 24, 1717, London, England--died March 2, 1797, London), English writer, connoisseur, and collector known for his novel The Castle of Otranto (1764), the first Gothic novel in the English language and one of the earliest literary horror stories. He was perhaps the most assiduous letter writer of his era, and he built Strawberry Hill, a Gothic Revival mansion.The youngest son of the prime minister Robert Walpole, he was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge. In 1739 he embarked..
George Moore, in full George Augustus Moore, (born February 24, 1852, Ballyglass, County Mayo, Ireland--died January 21, 1933, London, England), Irish novelist and man of letters. Considered an innovator in fiction in his day, he no longer seems as important as he once did.Moore came from a distinguished Catholic family of Irish landholders. When he was 21, he left Ireland for Paris to become a painter. Moore's Reminiscences of the Impressionist Painters (1906) vividly described the Cafe Nouvelle-Athenes and the circle of Impressionist painters who frequented it. Moore was particularly..
Edmund Waller, (born March 3, 1606, Coleshill, Hertfordshire, Eng.--died Oct. 21, 1687, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire), English poet whose adoption of smooth, regular versification prepared the way for the heroic couplet's emergence by the end of the century as the dominant form of poetic expression. His importance was fully recognized by his age. "Mr. Waller reformed our numbers," said John Dryden, who, with Alexander Pope, followed him and raised the couplet to its most concentrated form.Waller was educated at Eton College and the University of Cambridge and entered Parliament while..
Francis Beaumont, (born c. 1585, Grace-Dieu, Leicestershire, England--died March 6, 1616, London), English Jacobean poet and playwright who collaborated with John Fletcher on comedies and tragedies between about 1606 and 1613.The son of Francis Beaumont, justice of common pleas of Grace-Dieu priory, Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, Beaumont entered Broadgates Hall (later Pembroke College), Oxford, in 1597. His father dying the following year, he abruptly left the university without a degree and later (November 1600) entered London's Inner Temple, where he evidently became more..
John le Carre, pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell, (born October 19, 1931, Poole, Dorset, England), English writer of suspenseful, realistic spy novels based on a wide knowledge of international espionage.Educated abroad and at the University of Oxford, le Carre taught French and Latin at Eton College from 1956 to 1958. In 1959 he became a member of the British foreign service in West Germany and continued with the agency until 1964. During this time he began writing novels, and in 1961 his first book, Call for the Dead (filmed as The Deadly Affair, 1966), was published. More a detective story..
Aldous Huxley, in full Aldous Leonard Huxley, (born July 26, 1894, Godalming, Surrey, England--died November 22, 1963, Los Angeles, California, U.S.), English novelist and critic gifted with an acute and far-ranging intelligence whose works are notable for their wit and pessimistic satire. He remains best known for one novel, Brave New World (1932), a model for much dystopian science fiction that followed.Aldous Huxley was a grandson of the prominent biologist Thomas Henry Huxley and was the third child of the biographer and man of letters Leonard Huxley; his brothers included physiologist..
Peter Ustinov, in full Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov, (born April 16, 1921, London, England--died March 28, 2004, Genolier, Switzerland), English actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, raconteur, and humanitarian.Ustinov's grandfather was a Russian officer in the tsar's army who was exiled because of his religious beliefs. "It is for that reason," Ustinov later said, "that I am addressing you today in English." His father was a respected British journalist and his mother an accomplished painter. After attending Westminster School and the London Theatre School, Ustinov..
Arnold Bennett, in full Enoch Arnold Bennett, (born May 27, 1867, Hanley, Staffordshire, England--died March 27, 1931, London), British novelist, playwright, critic, and essayist whose major works form an important link between the English novel and the mainstream of European realism.Bennett's father was a self-made man who had managed to qualify as a solicitor: the family atmosphere was one of sturdy respectability and self-improvement. Arnold, the eldest of nine children, was educated at the Middle School, Newcastle-under-Lyme; he then entered his father's office as a clerk. In 1889..
Kate Atkinson, (born December 20, 1951, York, England), British short-story writer, playwright, and novelist whose works were known for their complicated plots, experimental form, and often eccentric characters.Atkinson received her early education at a private preparatory school and later the Queen Anne Grammar School for Girls in York. An avid reader from childhood, she studied English literature at the University of Dundee, where she earned a master's degree in 1974. She remained at Dundee to study postmodern American fiction for a doctorate. Though she was denied the degree, her..
Tom Stoppard, original name Tomas Straussler, in full Sir Tom Stoppard, (born July 3, 1937, Zlin, Czechoslovakia [now in Czech Republic]), Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter whose work is marked by verbal brilliance, ingenious action, and structural dexterity.Stoppard's father was working in Singapore in the late 1930s. After the Japanese invasion, his father stayed on and was killed, but Stoppard's mother and her two sons escaped to India, where in 1946 she married a British officer, Kenneth Stoppard. Soon afterward the family went to live in England. Tom Stoppard--he had..
Hilary Mantel, in full Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, original name Hilary Mary Thompson, (born July 6, 1952, Hadfield, Derbyshire, England), English writer known for her bleakly comic, socially probing novels set in a wide range of contemporary and historical milieus.Born into a working-class Roman Catholic family, Mantel attended convent school before embarking on a law degree at the London School of Economics. She finished her studies at the University of Sheffield in 1973 and found work first as a social worker and then as a store assistant. After moving to Botswana with her husband, a geologist,..
John Galsworthy, (born Aug. 14, 1867, Kingston Hill, Surrey, Eng.--died Jan. 31, 1933, Grove Lodge, Hampstead), English novelist and playwright, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932.Galsworthy's family, of Devonshire farming stock traceable to the 16th century, had made a comfortable fortune in property in the 19th century. His father was a solicitor. Educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford, Galsworthy was called to the bar in 1890. With a view to specializing in marine law, he took a voyage around the world, during which he encountered Joseph Conrad, then mate of a merchant..
Terry Pratchett, in full Sir Terence David John Pratchett, (born April 28, 1948, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England--died March 12, 2015, near Salisbury, Wiltshire), English author, predominantly of humorous fantasy and science fiction, best known for his Discworld series.Pratchett was raised in Buckinghamshire, the son of an engineer and a secretary. He became enamoured with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and published his first story, "The Hades Business," in a school magazine in 1961. The story was published commercially two years later in Science Fantasy magazine...
Thomas Gray, (born Dec. 26, 1716, London--died July 30, 1771, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Eng.), English poet whose "An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" is one of the best known of English lyric poems. Although his literary output was slight, he was the dominant poetic figure in the mid-18th century and a precursor of the Romantic movement.Born into a prosperous but unhappy home, Gray was the sole survivor of 12 children of a harsh and violent father and a long-suffering mother, who operated a millinery business to educate him. A delicate and studious boy, he was sent to Eton in 1725 at the..
Fanny Burney, byname of Frances d'Arblay, nee Burney, (born June 13, 1752, King's Lynn, Norfolk, England--died January 6, 1840, London), English novelist and letter writer, who was the author of Evelina, a landmark in the development of the novel of manners.Fanny was the daughter of musician Charles Burney. She educated herself by omnivorous reading at home. Her literary apprenticeship was much influenced by her father's friend Samuel Crisp, a disappointed author living in retirement. It was to "Daddy" Crisp that she addressed her first journal letters, lively accounts of the musical evenings..
Thomas De Quincey, (born Aug. 15, 1785, Manchester, Lancashire, Eng.--died Dec. 8, 1859, Edinburgh, Scot.), English essayist and critic, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.As a child De Quincey was alienated from his solid, prosperous mercantile family by his sensitivity and precocity. At the age of 17 he ran away to Wales and then lived incognito in London (1802-03). There he formed a friendship with a young prostitute named Ann, who made a lasting impression on him. Reconciled to his family in 1803, he entered Worcester College, Oxford, where he conceived the ambition..
John Gay, (born June 30, 1685, Barnstaple, Devon, Eng.--died Dec. 4, 1732, London), English poet and dramatist, chiefly remembered as the author of The Beggar's Opera, a work distinguished by good-humoured satire and technical assurance.A member of an ancient but impoverished Devonshire family, Gay was educated at the free grammar school in Barnstaple. He was apprenticed to a silk mercer in London but was released early from his indentures and, after a further short period in Devonshire, returned to London, where he lived most of his life. Among his early literary friends were Aaron Hill and..
Anthony Trollope, (born April 24, 1815, London, Eng.--died Dec. 6, 1882, London), English novelist whose popular success concealed until long after his death the nature and extent of his literary merit. A series of books set in the imaginary English county of Barsetshire remains his best loved and most famous work, but he also wrote convincing novels of political life as well as studies that show great psychological penetration. One of his greatest strengths was a steady, consistent vision of the social structures of Victorian England, which he re-created in his books with unusual solidity.Trollope..
John Osborne, in full John James Osborne, (born December 12, 1929, London, England--died December 24, 1994, Shropshire), British playwright and film producer whose Look Back in Anger (performed 1956) ushered in a new movement in British drama and made him known as the first of the Angry Young Men.The son of a commercial artist and a barmaid, Osborne used insurance money from his father's death in 1941 for a boarding- school education at Belmont College, Devon. He hated it and left after striking the headmaster. He went home to his mother in London and briefly tried trade journalism until a job tutoring..
Wyndham Lewis, in full Percy Wyndham Lewis, (born November 18, 1882, on a yacht near Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada--died March 7, 1957, London, England), English artist and writer who founded the Vorticist movement, which sought to relate art and literature to the industrial process.About 1893 Lewis moved to London with his mother after his parents separated. At age 16 he won a scholarship to London's Slade School of Fine Art, but he left three years later without completing his course. Instead, he went to Paris, where he practiced painting and attended lectures at the Sorbonne. While in Paris,..
Robert Southey, (born Aug. 12, 1774, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died March 21, 1843, Keswick, Cumberland), English poet and writer of miscellaneous prose who is chiefly remembered for his association with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, both of whom were leaders of the early Romantic movement.The son of a linen draper, Southey spent much of his childhood at Bath in the care of his aunt, Elizabeth Tyler. Educated at Westminster School and Balliol College, Oxford, Southey expressed his ardent sympathy for the French Revolution in the long poem Joan of Arc (published..
Emily Bronte, in full Emily Jane Bronte, pseudonym Ellis Bell, (born July 30, 1818, Thornton, Yorkshire, England--died December 19, 1848, Haworth, Yorkshire), English novelist and poet who produced but one novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), a highly imaginative work of passion and hate set on the Yorkshire moors. Emily was perhaps the greatest of the three Bronte sisters, but the record of her life is extremely meagre, for she was silent and reserved and left no correspondence of interest, and her single novel darkens rather than solves the mystery of her spiritual existence.LifeHer father,..
Gerard Manley Hopkins, (born July 28, 1844, Stratford, Essex, Eng.--died June 8, 1889, Dublin), English poet and Jesuit priest, one of the most individual of Victorian writers. His work was not published in collected form until 1918, but it influenced many leading 20th-century poets.Hopkins was the eldest of the nine children of Manley Hopkins, an Anglican, who had been British consul general in Hawaii and had himself published verse. Hopkins won the poetry prize at the Highgate grammar school and in 1863 was awarded a grant to study at Balliol College, Oxford, where he continued writing poetry..
John Fletcher, (baptized December 20, 1579, Rye, Sussex, England--died August 29, 1625, London), English Jacobean dramatist who collaborated with Francis Beaumont and other dramatists on comedies and tragedies between about 1606 and 1625.His father, Richard Fletcher, was minister of the parish in which John was born and became afterward queen's chaplain, dean of Peterborough, and bishop successively of Bristol, Worcester, and London, gaining a measure of fame as an accuser in the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, and as the chaplain sternly officiating at her execution. When not quite 12,..
Edmond Halley, Edmond also spelled Edmund, (born Nov. 8, 1656, Haggerston, Shoreditch, near London--died Jan. 14, 1742, Greenwich, near London), English astronomer and mathematician who was the first to calculate the orbit of a comet later named after him. He is also noted for his role in the publication of Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.Early lifeHalley began his education at St. Paul's School, London. He had the good fortune to live through a period of scientific revolution that established the basis of modern thought. He was four years old when the monarchy..
Rudyard Kipling, in full Joseph Rudyard Kipling, (born December 30, 1865, Bombay [now Mumbai], India--died January 18, 1936, London, England), English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.LifeKipling's father, John Lockwood Kipling, was an artist and scholar who had considerable influence on his son's work, became curator of the Lahore Museum, and is described presiding over this "wonder house"..
Joshua Reynolds, in full Sir Joshua Reynolds, (born July 16, 1723, Plympton, Devon, England--died February 23, 1792, London), portrait painter and aesthetician who dominated English artistic life in the middle and late 18th century. Through his art and teaching, he attempted to lead British painting away from the indigenous anecdotal pictures of the early 18th century toward the formal rhetoric of the continental Grand Style. With the founding of the Royal Academy in 1768, Reynolds was elected its first president and knighted by King George III.Early lifeReynolds attended the Plympton..
Samuel Richardson, (baptized Aug. 19, 1689, Mackworth, near Derby, Derbyshire, Eng.--died July 4, 1761, Parson's Green, near London), English novelist who expanded the dramatic possibilities of the novel by his invention and use of the letter form ("epistolary novel"). His major novels were Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1747-48).Richardson was 50 years old when he wrote Pamela, but of his first 50 years little is known. His ancestors were of yeoman stock. His father, also Samuel, and his mother's father, Stephen Hall, became London tradesmen, and his father, after the death of his first wife,..
Joseph Addison, (born May 1, 1672, Milston, Wiltshire, England--died June 17, 1719, London), English essayist, poet, and dramatist, who, with Richard Steele, was a leading contributor to and guiding spirit of the periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator. His writing skill led to his holding important posts in government while the Whigs were in power.Early lifeAddison was the eldest son of the Reverend Lancelot Addison, later archdeacon of Coventry and dean of Lichfield. After schooling in Amesbury and Salisbury and at Lichfield Grammar School, he was enrolled at age 14 in the Charterhouse..
John Wilkes, (born October 17, 1725, London--died December 26, 1797, London), outspoken 18th-century journalist and popular London politician who came to be regarded as a victim of persecution and as a champion of liberty because he was repeatedly expelled from Parliament. His widespread popular support may have been the beginning of English Radicalism.Early lifeWilkes was the second son of Israel Wilkes, a successful malt distiller. He was educated at an academy at Hertford and afterward privately tutored. His marriage on May 23, 1747, to Mary Meade, heiress of the manor of Aylesbury,..
Sir Philip Sidney, (born November 30, 1554, Penshurst, Kent, England--died October 17, 1586, Arnhem, Netherlands), Elizabethan courtier, statesman, soldier, poet, and patron of scholars and poets, considered the ideal gentleman of his day. After Shakespeare's sonnets, Sidney's Astrophel and Stella is considered the finest Elizabethan sonnet cycle. His The Defence of Poesie introduced the critical ideas of Renaissance theorists to England.Philip Sidney was the eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney and his wife, Lady Mary Dudley, daughter of the duke of Northumberland, and godson of King Philip..
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, original name Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, (born May 12, 1828, London, England--died April 9, 1882, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent), English painter and poet who helped found the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of painters treating religious, moral, and medieval subjects in a nonacademic manner. Dante Gabriel was the most celebrated member of the Rossetti family.Early life and worksAfter a general education in the junior department of King's College (1836-41), Rossetti hesitated between poetry and painting as a vocation. When about 14 he went to "Sass's,"..
Christopher Marlowe, (baptized Feb. 26, 1564, Canterbury, Kent, Eng.--died May 30, 1593, Deptford, near London), Elizabethan poet and Shakespeare's most important predecessor in English drama, who is noted especially for his establishment of dramatic blank verse.Early yearsMarlowe was the second child and eldest son of John Marlowe, a Canterbury shoemaker. Nothing is known of his first schooling, but on Jan. 14, 1579, he entered the King's School, Canterbury, as a scholar. A year later he went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Obtaining his bachelor of arts degree in 1584, he continued..
Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, (born January 27, 1832, Daresbury, Cheshire, England--died January 14, 1898, Guildford, Surrey), English logician, mathematician, photographer, and novelist, especially remembered for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871). His poem The Hunting of the Snark (1876) is nonsense literature of the highest order.Early lifeDodgson was the eldest son and third child in a family of seven girls and four boys born to Frances Jane Lutwidge, the wife of the Rev. Charles Dodgson. He was born..
Daniel Defoe, (born 1660, London, Eng.--died April 24, 1731, London), English novelist, pamphleteer, and journalist, author of Robinson Crusoe (1719-22) and Moll Flanders (1722).Early life.Defoe's father, James Foe, was a hard-working and fairly prosperous tallow chandler (perhaps also, later, a butcher), of Flemish descent. By his middle 30s, Daniel was calling himself "Defoe," probably reviving a variant of what may have been the original family name. As a Nonconformist, or Dissenter, Foe could not send his son to the University of Oxford or to Cambridge; he sent him instead to the excellent..
Thomas Hardy, (born June 2, 1840, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England--died January 11, 1928, Dorchester, Dorset), English novelist and poet who set much of his work in Wessex, his name for the counties of southwestern England.Early life and worksHardy was the eldest of the four children of Thomas Hardy, a stonemason and jobbing builder, and his wife, Jemima (nee Hand). He grew up in an isolated cottage on the edge of open heathland. Though he was often ill as a child, his early experience of rural life, with its seasonal rhythms and oral culture, was fundamental to much of his later writing. He..
Ben Jonson, byname of Benjamin Jonson, (born June 11?, 1572, London, England--died August 6, 1637, London), English Stuart dramatist, lyric poet, and literary critic. He is generally regarded as the second most important English dramatist, after William Shakespeare, during the reign of James I. Among his major plays are the comedies Every Man in His Humour (1598), Volpone (1605), Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman (1609), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614).Theatrical careerJonson was born two months after his father died. His stepfather was a bricklayer, but by good fortune..
John Dryden, (born August 9 [August 19, New Style], 1631, Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England--died May 1 [May 12], 1700, London), English poet, dramatist, and literary critic who so dominated the literary scene of his day that it came to be known as the Age of Dryden.Youth and educationThe son of a country gentleman, Dryden grew up in the country. When he was 11 years old the Civil War broke out. Both his father's and mother's families sided with Parliament against the king, but Dryden's own sympathies in his youth are unknown.About 1644 Dryden was admitted to Westminster School, where he received..
Robert Browning, (born May 7, 1812, London--died Dec. 12, 1889, Venice), major English poet of the Victorian age, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. His most noted work was The Ring and the Book (1868-69), the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books.Life.The son of a clerk in the Bank of England in London, Browning received only a slight formal education, although his father gave him a grounding in Greek and Latin. In 1828 he attended classes at the University of London but left after half a session. Apart from a journey to St. Petersburg in 1834 with George..
Henry Fielding, (born April 22, 1707, Sharpham Park, Somerset, Eng.--died Oct. 8, 1754, Lisbon), novelist and playwright, who, with Samuel Richardson, is considered a founder of the English novel. Among his major novels are Joseph Andrews (1742) and Tom Jones (1749).Early life.Fielding was born of a family that by tradition traced its descent to a branch of the Habsburgs. The 1st earl of Denbigh, William Fielding, was a direct ancestor, while Henry's father, Col. Edmund Fielding, had served under John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, an early 18th-century general, "with much bravery and..
Matthew Arnold, (born December 24, 1822, Laleham, Middlesex, England--died April 15, 1888, Liverpool), English Victorian poet and literary and social critic, noted especially for his classical attacks on the contemporary tastes and manners of the "Barbarians" (the aristocracy), the "Philistines" (the commercial middle class), and the "Populace." He became the apostle of "culture" in such works as Culture and Anarchy (1869).LifeMatthew was the eldest son of the renowned Thomas Arnold, who was appointed headmaster of Rugby School in 1828. Matthew entered Rugby (1837) and then attended..
John Keats, (born October 31, 1795, London, England--died February 23, 1821, Rome, Papal States [Italy]), English Romantic lyric poet who devoted his short life to the perfection of a poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal, and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend.YouthThe son of a livery-stable manager, John Keats received relatively little formal education. His father died in 1804, and his mother remarried almost immediately. Throughout his life Keats had close emotional ties to his sister, Fanny, and his two brothers, George and Tom. After the breakup..
Edward Gibbon, (born May 8 [April 27, Old Style], 1737, Putney, Surrey, England--died January 16, 1794, London), English rationalist historian and scholar best known as the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88), a continuous narrative from the 2nd century ce to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.LifeGibbon's grandfather, Edward, had made a considerable fortune and his father, also Edward, was able to live an easygoing life in society and Parliament. He married Judith, a daughter of James Porten, whose family had originated in Germany. Edward, too, had..
David Garrick, (born February 19, 1717, Hereford, Herefordshire, England--died January 20, 1779, London), English actor, producer, dramatist, poet, and comanager of the Drury Lane Theatre.Early yearsGarrick was of French and Irish descent, the son of Peter Garrick, a captain in the English army, and Arabella Clough, the daughter of a vicar at Lichfield cathedral who was of Irish extraction. David was born at Hereford, where his father was on recruiting duty. In the family home at Lichfield, the seven children were reared on the highest moral principles in conditions of strict economy. To..
Alexander Pope, (born May 21, 1688, London, England--died May 30, 1744, Twickenham, near London), poet and satirist of the English Augustan period, best known for his poems An Essay on Criticism (1711), The Rape of the Lock (1712-14), The Dunciad (1728), and An Essay on Man (1733-34). He is one of the most epigrammatic of all English authors.Pope's father, a wholesale linen merchant, retired from business in the year of his son's birth and in 1700 went to live at Binfield in Windsor Forest. The Popes were Roman Catholics, and at Binfield they came to know several neighbouring Catholic families..
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (born October 21, 1772, Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, England--died July 25, 1834, Highgate, near London), English lyrical poet, critic, and philosopher. His Lyrical Ballads, written with William Wordsworth, heralded the English Romantic movement, and his Biographia Literaria (1817) is the most significant work of general literary criticism produced in the English Romantic period.Early life and worksColeridge's father was vicar of Ottery and headmaster of the local grammar school. As a child Coleridge was already a prodigious reader, and he immersed himself..
Edmund Spenser, (born 1552/53, London, England--died January 13, 1599, London), English poet whose long allegorical poem The Faerie Queene is one of the greatest in the English language. It was written in what came to be called the Spenserian stanza.Youth and educationLittle is certainly known about Spenser. He was related to a noble Midlands family of Spencer, whose fortunes had been made through sheep raising. His own immediate family was not wealthy. He was entered as a "poor boy" in the Merchant Taylors' grammar school, where he would have studied mainly Latin, with some Hebrew, Greek,..
George Meredith, (born Feb. 12, 1828, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng.--died May 18, 1909, Box Hill, Surrey), English Victorian poet and novelist, whose novels are noted for their wit, brilliant dialogue, and aphoristic quality of language. Meredith's novels are also distinguished by psychological studies of character and a highly subjective view of life that, far ahead of his time, regarded women as truly the equals of men. His best known works are The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) and The Egoist (1879).Early lifeGeorge Meredith, the son and grandson of tailors, was born above the family..
John Bunyan, (born November 1628, Elstow, Bedfordshire, England--died August 31, 1688, London), celebrated English minister and preacher, author of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), the book that was the most characteristic expression of the Puritan religious outlook. His other works include doctrinal and controversial writings; a spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding (1666); and the allegory The Holy War (1682).Early lifeBunyan, the son of a brazier, or traveling tinker, was brought up "among a multitude of poor plowmen's children" in the heart of England's agricultural Midlands...
John Ruskin, (born February 8, 1819, London, England--died January 20, 1900, Coniston, Lancashire), English critic of art, architecture, and society who was a gifted painter, a distinctive prose stylist, and an important example of the Victorian Sage, or Prophet: a writer of polemical prose who seeks to cause widespread cultural and social change.Early life and influencesRuskin was born into the commercial classes of the prosperous and powerful Britain of the years immediately following the Napoleonic Wars. His father, John James Ruskin, was a Scots wine merchant who had moved to London..
Samuel Johnson, byname Dr. Johnson, (born September 18, 1709, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England--died December 13, 1784, London), English critic, biographer, essayist, poet, and lexicographer, regarded as one of the greatest figures of 18th-century life and letters.Johnson once characterized literary biographies as "mournful narratives," and he believed that he lived "a life radically wretched." Yet his career can be seen as a literary success story of the sickly boy from the Midlands who by talent, tenacity, and intelligence became the foremost literary figure and the most formidable..
John Milton, (born December 9, 1608, London, England--died November 8?, 1674, London?), English poet, pamphleteer, and historian, considered the most significant English author after William Shakespeare.Milton is best known for Paradise Lost, widely regarded as the greatest epic poem in English. Together with Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, it confirms Milton's reputation as one of the greatest English poets. In his prose works Milton advocated the abolition of the Church of England and the execution of Charles I. From the beginning of the English Civil Wars in 1642 to long after..
William Wordsworth, (born April 7, 1770, Cockermouth, Cumberland, England—died April 23, 1850, Rydal Mount, Westmorland), English poet whose Lyrical Ballads (1798), written with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped launch the English Romantic movement.Early life and educationWordsworth was born in the Lake District of northern England, the second of five children of a modestly prosperous estate manager. He lost his mother when he was 7 and his father when he was 13, upon which the orphan boys were sent off by guardian uncles to a grammar school at Hawkshead, a village in the heart of the Lake District...
William Shakespeare, Shakespeare also spelled Shakspere, byname Bard of Avon or Swan of Avon, (baptized April 26, 1564, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England—died April 23, 1616, Stratford-upon-Avon), English poet, dramatist, and actor often called the English national poet and considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time.Shakespeare occupies a position unique in world literature. Other poets, such as Homer and Dante, and novelists, such as Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens, have transcended national barriers, but no writer’s living reputation can compare to that..
William Morris, (born March 24, 1834, Walthamstow, near London, England—died October 3, 1896, Hammersmith, near London), English designer, craftsman, poet, and early socialist, whose designs for furniture, fabrics, stained glass, wallpaper, and other decorative arts generated the Arts and Crafts movement in England and revolutionized Victorian taste.Education and early careerMorris was born in an Essex village on the southern edge of Epping Forest, a member of a large and well-to-do family. From his preparatory school, he went at age 13 to Marlborough College. A schoolfellow described..
William Makepeace Thackeray, (born July 18, 1811, Calcutta, India—died Dec. 24, 1863, London, Eng.), English novelist whose reputation rests chiefly on Vanity Fair (1847–48), a novel of the Napoleonic period in England, and The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. (1852), set in the early 18th century.LifeThackeray was the only son of Richmond Thackeray, an administrator in the East India Company. His father died in 1815, and in 1816 Thackeray was sent home to England. His mother joined him in 1820, having married (1817) an engineering officer with whom she had been in love before she met Richmond..
William Hazlitt, (born April 10, 1778, Maidstone, Kent, Eng.—died Sept. 18, 1830, Soho, London), English writer best known for his humanistic essays. Lacking conscious artistry or literary pretention, his writing is noted for the brilliant intellect it reveals.Hazlitt’s childhood was spent in Ireland and North America, where his father, a Unitarian preacher, supported the American rebels. The family returned to England when William was nine, settling in Shropshire. At puberty the child became somewhat sullen and unapproachable, tendencies that persisted throughout his life. He read..
William Cowper, (born November 26, 1731, Great Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England—died April 25, 1800, East Dereham, Norfolk), one of the most widely read English poets of his day, whose most characteristic work, as in The Task or the melodious short lyric “The Poplar Trees,” brought a new directness to 18th-century nature poetry.Cowper wrote of the joys and sorrows of everyday life and was content to describe the minutiae of the countryside. In his sympathy with rural life, his concern for the poor and downtrodden, and his comparative simplicity of language, he may be seen as one in revolt..
William Congreve, (born January 24, 1670, Bardsey, near Leeds, Yorkshire, England—died January 19, 1729, London), English dramatist who shaped the English comedy of manners through his brilliant comic dialogue, his satirical portrayal of the war of the sexes, and his ironic scrutiny of the affectations of his age. His major plays were The Old Bachelour (1693), The Double-Dealer (1693), Love for Love (1695), and The Way of the World (1700).Early lifeIn 1674 Congreve’s father was granted a commission in the army to join the garrison at Youghal, in Ireland. When he was transferred to Carrickfergus,..
William Blake, (born Nov. 28, 1757, London, Eng.—died Aug. 12, 1827, London), English engraver, artist, poet, and visionary, author of exquisite lyrics in Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) and profound and difficult “prophecies,” such as Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793), The First Book of Urizen (1794), Milton (1804[–?11]), and Jerusalem (1804[–?20]). The dating of Blake’s texts is explained in the Researcher’s Note: Blake publication dates. These works he etched, printed, coloured, stitched, and sold, with the assistance of his devoted wife, Catherine...
W. H. Auden, in full Wystan Hugh Auden, (born February 21, 1907, York, Yorkshire, England—died September 29, 1973, Vienna, Austria), English-born poet and man of letters who achieved early fame in the 1930s as a hero of the left during the Great Depression. Most of his verse dramas of this period were written in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood. In 1939 Auden settled in the United States, becoming a U.S. citizen.LifeIn 1908 Auden’s family moved to Birmingham, where his father became medical officer and professor in the university. Since the father was a distinguished physician of broad..
Richard Dawkins, in full Clinton Richard Dawkins, (born March 26, 1941, Nairobi, Kenya), British evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and popular-science writer who emphasized the gene as the driving force of evolution and generated significant controversy with his enthusiastic advocacy of atheism.Dawkins spent his early childhood in Kenya, where his father was stationed during World War II. The family returned to England in 1949. In 1959 Dawkins entered Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1962. He remained at Oxford, earning his..
Percy Bysshe Shelley, (born Aug. 4, 1792, Field Place, near Horsham, Sussex, Eng.—died July 8, 1822, at sea off Livorno, Tuscany [Italy]), English Romantic poet whose passionate search for personal love and social justice was gradually channeled from overt actions into poems that rank with the greatest in the English language.
Shelley was the heir to rich estates acquired by his grandfather, Bysshe (pronounced “Bish”) Shelley. Timothy Shelley, the poet’s father, was a weak, conventional man who was caught between an overbearing father and a rebellious son...
Izaak Walton, (born August 9, 1593, Stafford, Staffordshire, England—died December 15, 1683, Winchester, Hampshire), English biographer and author of The Compleat Angler (1653), a pastoral discourse on the joys and stratagems of fishing that has been one of the most frequently reprinted books in English literature.After a few years of schooling, Walton was apprenticed to a kinsman in the linendrapers’ trade in London, where he acquired a small shop of his own and began to prosper. Despite his modest education he read widely, developed scholarly tastes, and associated with men of learning...
Geoffrey Chaucer, (born c. 1342/43, London?, England—died October 25, 1400, London), the outstanding English poet before Shakespeare and “the first finder of our language.” His The Canterbury Tales ranks as one of the greatest poetic works in English. He also contributed importantly in the second half of the 14th century to the management of public affairs as courtier, diplomat, and civil servant. In that career he was trusted and aided by three successive kings—Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV. But it is his avocation—the writing of poetry—for which he is remembered.Perhaps the chief..
Francis Bacon, in full Francis Bacon, Viscount Saint Alban, also called (1603–18) Sir Francis Bacon, (born January 22, 1561, York House, London, England—died April 9, 1626, London), lord chancellor of England (1618–21). A lawyer, statesman, philosopher, and master of the English tongue, he is remembered in literary terms for the sharp worldly wisdom of a few dozen essays; by students of constitutional history for his power as a speaker in Parliament and in famous trials and as James I’s lord chancellor; and intellectually as a man who claimed all knowledge as his province and, after a magisterial..
Charles Dickens, in full Charles John Huffam Dickens, (born February 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England—died June 9, 1870, Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent), English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era. His many volumes include such works as A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend.Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity during his lifetime than had any previous author. Much in his work could appeal to the simple and the sophisticated, to the poor and to the queen, and technological developments..
Alan Bennett, (born May 9, 1934, Leeds, Yorkshire, England), British playwright who was best known for The Madness of George III (1991) and The History Boys (2004). His work fearlessly scrutinized the British class system, propriety, and England’s north-south cultural divide with results that were simultaneously chilling and hilarious.
Bennett attended Leeds Modern School and gained a scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, where he received an undergraduate degree in history in 1957. His fledgling career as a junior lecturer in history at Magdalen College, Oxford, was cut short..
Sarah Kane, controversial British playwright who earned a reputation as an enfant terrible because of the graphic sex and violence and bleak outlook on life exhibited in her plays, beginning in 1995 with the sensationalistic Blasted (b. Feb. 3, 1971, Essex, Eng.--d. Feb. 20, 1999, London, Eng.).
Isaac Rosenberg, (born Nov. 25, 1890, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died April 1918, France), British poet and painter killed in World War I.Rosenberg first trained to be a painter, winning several prizes at the Slade School of Art, London. He enlisted in the British Army in 1915 and is best known for his "trench poems," written between 1916 and 1918, which showed great imaginative power and originality in imagery. His Collected Works, with a foreword by Siegfried Sassoon, first appeared in 1937; an edition by Ian Parsons including poetry, prose, letters, paintings and drawings, was published..
Jean Ingelow, (born March 17, 1820, Boston, Lincolnshire, Eng.--died July 20, 1897, London), English poet and novelist popular in her own day and remembered for her narrative poem "The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire, 1571" (1863), which reveals considerable command of language and a power to evoke feeling.The friend of many leading painters and writers, Ingelow was modest and retiring and spent much of her earnings from writing on charitable works. Poems (1863) contains her best work; also of note are a novel, Sarah de Berenger (1879), and a children's book, Mopsa the Fairy (1869; reprinted..
Elizabeth Taylor, nee Coles, (born July 3, 1912, Reading, Berkshire, Eng.--died Nov. 19, 1975, Penn, Buckinghamshire), British novelist noted for her precise use of language and scrupulously understated style.Her first novel, At Mrs Lippincote's, was published in 1945; like most of her work, it has a largely uneventful plot but portrays with unerring accuracy the behaviour of women in contemporary society. Among her other works are A Wreath of Roses (1950), A Game of Hide and Seek (1951), The Sleeping Beauty (1953), and The Wedding Group (1968). Volumes of short stories include A Dedicated..
Alexander Brome, (born 1620--died June 30, 1666, London, Eng.), Royalist poet who wrote drinking songs and satirical verses against the Rump Parliament in England.Brome was probably an attorney in the Lord Mayor's Court or the Court of King's Bench. Izaak Walton wrote an introductory eclogue to Brome's Songs and Other Poems (1661), a volume of songs, ballads, epistles, elegies, and epitaphs. Brome's gaiety and wit won him the title of the "English Anacreon" in Edward Phillips' collection, Theatrum Poetarum (1675). Brome edited and contributed to a translation of Horace (1666) and was the..
Bernard Levin, British journalist (born Aug. 19, 1928, London, Eng.--died Aug. 7, 2004, London), applied his acerbic wit for almost 40 years as a political columnist and entertainment critic for such newspapers as The Spectator, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, and, especially, The Times, where he was chief columnist from 1971 to 1997. In 1962 he made his television debut as a commentator on the BBC satire That Was the Week That Was. Levin was an unsparing critic of MPs on both sides of the aisle and was credited with having coined the term "nanny state" to describe the increasing role of government..
Douglas William Jerrold, (born Jan. 3, 1803, London--died June 8, 1857, London), English playwright, journalist, and humorist.Jerrold achieved success in the theatre with Black-Eyed Susan (1829), a nautical melodrama that draws on the patriotic tar (sailor) while critiquing authoritarianism in the British Navy. He also mastered a special brand of Victorian humour in a series of articles called "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures" (1845) for Punch magazine, to which he was a regular contributor. More plays with a nautical theme followed Black-Eyed Susan, but Jerrold was ambitious to write..
Charles Simeon, (born Sept. 24, 1759, Reading, Berkshire, Eng.--died Nov. 13, 1836, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire), Anglican clergyman and biblical commentator who led the Evangelical (or Low Church) movement, in reaction to the liturgically and episcopally oriented High Church party.Simeon was educated at King's College, Cambridge, where he became vice provost (1790-92). In 1782 he was presented to the living of Trinity Church, Cambridge, where he remained until his death. Renowned as a preacher, Simeon helped found the Church Missionary Society (1797) and assisted the newly founded..
William Cartwright, (born December 1611, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, Eng.--died Nov. 29, 1643, Oxford, Oxfordshire), British writer greatly admired in his day as a poet, scholar, wit, and author of plays in the comic tradition of Ben Jonson.Educated at Westminster School and the University of Oxford, Cartwright became a preacher, noted for his florid style, and a reader in metaphysics. On the outbreak of the English Civil Wars in 1642, he joined the university war council, and in 1643 he was university junior proctor. Charles I wore black on the day of Cartwright's funeral. Cartwright's plays..
Thomas Holcroft, (born Dec. 10, 1745, London, Eng.--died March 23, 1809, London), English dramatist, novelist, journalist, and actor.The son of a peddler, Holcroft worked as a stableboy, cobbler, and teacher before he was able to make his living as a writer. He is remembered for his melodrama The Road to Ruin (performed 1792, often revived); his translation of Beaumarchais's play Le Mariage de Figaro (Paris, 1784) under the title The Follies of a Day (performed 1784), in which Holcroft played the part of Figaro; and his autobiography, edited in 1816 by his friend William Hazlitt. This autobiography..
Nigel Kneale, British scriptwriter (born April 28, 1922, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, Eng.--died Oct. 29, 2006, London, Eng.), introduced science fiction to British television in the 1950s, notably as the author of the wildly successful horror-filled serials featuring alien fighter Prof. Bernard Quatermass--The Quatermass Experiment (1953), Quatermass II (1955), Quatermass and the Pit (1958), and Quatermass (1979)--all of which were adapted for the big screen. His other work included the groundbreaking 1954 TV adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 and BAFTA-nominated screenplays..
Henry Williamson, (born Dec. 1, 1895, Bedfordshire, Eng.--died Aug. 13, 1977, Berkshire), English novelist who is known for his sensitive but unsentimental handling of nature themes.After World War I service, Williamson became a journalist in London, but he disliked city life and moved to England's West Country. He tried farming and ultimately settled at Georgeham, in Devon. He first came to notice as a writer with four novels written between 1921 and 1928 and published under the title of The Flax of Dream (1936). Tarka the Otter (1927), however, was the book that established his reputation..
Philip James Bailey, (born April 22, 1816, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Eng.--died Sept. 6, 1902, Nottingham), English poet notable for his Festus (1839), a version of the Faust legend. Containing 50 scenes of blank-verse dialogue, about 22,000 lines in all, it was first published anonymously.Bailey's father, who himself published both prose and verse, owned and edited from 1845 to 1852 the Nottingham Mercury. The young Bailey received a local education until his 16th year, when he matriculated at the University of Glasgow. He did not, however, take his degree but moved in 1835 to London..
Thomas Bowdler, (born July 11, 1754, Ashley, near Bath, Somerset, Eng.--died Feb. 24, 1825, Rhydding, near Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales), English doctor of medicine, philanthropist, and man of letters, known for his Family Shakspeare (1818), in which, by expurgation and paraphrase, he aimed to provide an edition of Shakespeare's plays that he felt was suitable for a father to read aloud to his family without fear of offending their susceptibilities or corrupting their minds. Bowdler sought to preserve all Shakespeare's "beauties" without the "blemishes" introduced (he supposed)..
William Whitehead, (born Feb. 12, 1715, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Eng.--died April 14, 1785, London), British poet laureate from 1757 to 1785.Whitehead was educated at Winchester College and Clare Hall, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1740. At Cambridge he published a number of poems, including a heroic epistle Ann Boleyn to Henry the Eighth (1743), and in 1745 he became tutor to Viscount Villiers, son of the earl of Jersey, taking up residence in London. In 1757, upon the death of Colley Cibber, he was appointed poet laureate and proceeded to write annual effusions in the royal honour. That..
Ralph Hodgson, (born Sept. 9, 1871, Yorkshire, Eng.--died Nov. 3, 1962, Minerva, Ohio, U.S.), poet noted for simple and mystical lyrics that express a love of nature and a concern for modern man's progressive alienation from it.While working as a journalist in London and later as the editor of Fry's Magazine, Hodgson belonged to the loosely connected group of poets known as the Georgians. After teaching English literature at Sendai University in Japan (1924-38), he emigrated to the United States, retiring to a small farm outside Minerva, Ohio. Most of Hodgson's works were written between 1907..
Mary Renault, pseudonym of Mary Challans, (born Sept. 4, 1905, London, Eng.--died Dec. 13, 1983, Cape Town, S.Af.), British-born South African novelist, best known for her scholarship and her skill in re-creating classical history and legend.Renault graduated from St. Hugh's College and Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, completing her training as a nurse in 1937. She had begun to write novels but worked as a nurse during World War II. After the war she settled in South Africa.Renault's best-known sequence of Greek historical novels soon appeared: The Last of the Wine (1956), The King Must Die..
Sir Edward Dyer, (born October 1543, Sharpham Park, Somerset, Eng.--died May 1607, London), English courtier and poet whose reputation rests on a small number of ascribed lyrics in which critics have found great dexterity and sweetness.Educated at the University of Oxford, Dyer went to court under the patronage of the Earl of Leicester. Dyer was a friend of Sir Philip Sidney, on whose death he wrote an elegy. He won favours under Queen Elizabeth I, was employed on missions to the Netherlands (1584) and Denmark (1589), and was knighted in 1596. He was arrested in Prague in 1590 when on a mission in..
Barnabe Barnes, (born 1569?, Yorkshire, Eng.--died 1609), Elizabethan poet, one of the Elizabethan sonneteers and the author of Parthenophil and Parthenophe.Barnes was the son of Richard Barnes, bishop of Durham. He entered Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1586 but took no degree; in 1591 he joined the expedition to Normandy led by the Earl of Essex. On his return he published Parthenophil and Parthenophe (1593), containing sonnets, madrigals, elegies, and odes, on which rests his claim to fame. In 1598 he was prosecuted in the Star Chamber on a charge of attempted poisoning, but he escaped to..
Ronald Firbank, in full Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank, (born January 17, 1886, London, England--died May 21, 1926, Rome, Italy), English novelist who was a literary innovator of some importance. Greatly indebted to the literature of the 1890s, his is a peculiarly fantastic and perverse, idiosyncratic humour. His wit largely depends upon the shape and cadence of the sentence and upon an eccentric and personal vocabulary. He influenced later novelists Evelyn Waugh and Ivy Compton-Burnett.A delicate child, Firbank was educated mainly privately, but he spent some two years at the University..
Cyril Tourneur, (born c. 1575--died Feb. 28, 1626, Kinsale, County Cork, Ire.), English dramatist whose reputation rests largely upon The Atheist's Tragedie, which is written in verse that is rich in macabre imagery.In 1625 Sir Edward Cecil appointed Tourneur secretary to the council of war. This appointment was canceled by the duke of Buckingham, but Tourneur sailed with Cecil on an expedition to Cadiz. On the return voyage, he was put ashore at Kinsale with other sick men, and he died there. His poetical satire, The Transformed Metamorphosis, was published in 1600.The Atheist's Tragedie:..
Evelyn Underhill, (born Dec. 6, 1875, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, Eng.--died June 15, 1941, London), English mystical poet and author of such works as Mysticism (1911), The Mystic Way (1913), and Worship (1936), which helped establish mystical theology as a respectable discipline among contemporary intellectuals.Underhill was a lifelong Anglican, but she was also attracted by Roman Catholic piety and religious experience. By 1940 she had supplemented her earlier and more diffuse mystical attitudes with a greater understanding and acceptance of institutional and sacramental..
Charles Edward Montague, (born Jan. 1, 1867, Twickenham, Middlesex, Eng.--died May 28, 1928, Manchester), English novelist, journalist, and man of letters particularly noted for writings published in the Manchester Guardian and for a number of outstanding works of fiction.After graduating from the University of Oxford, Montague joined the Manchester Guardian and, apart from service with the Royal Fusiliers during World War I, remained there for 35 years. He became well known for his vigorous leading articles and penetrating dramatic criticism, partly collected in Dramatic Values..
Sir John Hawkins, (born March 30, 1719, London, England--died May 21, 1789, London), English magistrate, writer, and author of the first history of music in English.Hawkins was apprenticed as a clerk and became a solicitor. In 1759 a legacy enabled him to sell his practice. A Middlesex magistrate from 1761, Hawkins was elected chairman of the quarter sessions in 1765. He was knighted in 1772.Hawkins wrote, among other works, an annotated edition of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler (1760) and legal articles. His biography of Samuel Johnson, published with his 1787 edition of Johnson's works,..
Siegfried Sassoon, (born Sept. 8, 1886, Brenchley, Kent, Eng.--died Sept. 1, 1967, Heytesbury, Wiltshire), English poet and novelist, known for his antiwar poetry and for his fictionalized autobiographies, praised for their evocation of English country life.Sassoon enlisted in World War I and was twice wounded seriously while serving as an officer in France. It was his antiwar poetry, such as The Old Huntsman (1917) and Counterattack (1918), and his public affirmation of pacifism, after he had won the Military Cross and was still in the army, that made him widely known. His antiwar protests..
Dame Barbara Cartland, in full Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland, married name Barbara McCorquodale, (born July 9, 1901, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Eng.--died May 21, 2000, Hatfield, Hertfordshire), English author of more than 700 books, mostly formulaic novels of romantic love set in the 19th century.Following the death of her father in World War I, Cartland moved with her family to London. There she began contributing to the Daily Express newspaper, receiving instruction in writing from its proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook. Cartland's first novel, Jigsaw (1925), was a popular success. She traveled..
Anna Sewell, (born March 30, 1820, Yarmouth, Norfolk, Eng.--died April 25, 1878, Old Catton, Norfolk), British author of the children's classic Black Beauty.Sewell's concern for the humane treatment of horses began early in life when she spent many hours driving her father to and from the station from which he left for work. She was crippled at a young age, and though she had difficulty walking, she could drive a horse-drawn carriage. Later, after reading an essay on animals by Horace Bushnell, she stated that one of her goals in writing was "to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding..
Simon Raven, in full Simon Arthur Noel Raven, (born December 28, 1927, Leicester, Leicestershire, England--died May 12, 2001, London), English novelist, playwright, and journalist, known particularly for his satiric portrayal of the hedonism of the mid-20th-century upper classes of English society.Raven was educated at Charterhouse, Surrey, and King's College, Cambridge. He resigned as an officer in the British army to write his first novel, The Feathers of Death (1959). This was followed by the 10-part novel sequence Alms for Oblivion, which includes The Rich Pay Late (1964), Fielding..
Hesketh Pearson, (born Feb. 20, 1887, Hawford, Worcestershire, Eng.--died April 9, 1964, London), English actor, director, and biographer.After attending the Bedford Grammar School, he took his first job in a shipping office. In 1911 Pearson turned to the theatre, but his acting career was interrupted by World War I; he joined the army and fought as a private in Mesopotamia and Persia from 1914 to 1918. Pearson then returned to the stage as both actor and director. It was not until 1921 that he began his career as a writer, with Modern Men and Mummies (1921), which contained amusing portraits of..
Elizabeth Jennings, in full Elizabeth Joan Jennings, (born July 18, 1926, Boston, Lincolnshire, England--died October 26, 2001, Bampton, Oxfordshire), English poet whose works relate intensely personal matters in a plainspoken, traditional, and objective style and whose verse frequently reflects her devout Roman Catholicism and her love of Italy.Jennings was educated at Oxford High School and St. Anne's College, Oxford. Her first pamphlet, Poems, appeared in 1953, followed by A Way of Looking (1955), which won her a Somerset Maugham Award and enabled her to visit Italy. Song for a Birth..
Cyril Connolly, in full Cyril Vernon Connolly, (born September 10, 1903, Coventry, Warwickshire, England--died November 26, 1974, London), English critic, novelist, and man of letters, founder and editor of Horizon, a magazine of contemporary literature that was a major influence in Britain in its time (1939-50). As a critic he was personal and eclectic rather than systematic, but his idiosyncratic views were perceptive and conveyed with wit and grace.The son of an army major, he was educated at Eton College and then at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1927 he began a career of literary journalism..
Walter Savage Landor, (born Jan. 30, 1775, Warwick, Warwickshire, Eng.--died Sept. 17, 1864, Florence, Italy), English poet and writer best remembered for Imaginary Conversations, prose dialogues between historical personages.Educated at Rugby School and at Trinity College, Oxford, Landor spent a lifetime quarreling with his father, neighbours, wife, and any authorities at hand who offended him. Paradoxically, he won the friendship of literary men from Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Charles Lamb to Charles Dickens and Robert Browning. Imaginary Conversations, 2..
Nicholas Breton, (born 1553?--died 1625?), prolific English writer of religious and pastoral poems, satires, dialogues, and essays.Breton's life was spent mainly in London. He dedicated his works to many patrons, including James I; his chief early patron was Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke. In 1598 Breton was accounted one of the best lyrical poets, but he outlived his reputation. His satires are rather mild and general; more successful are the descriptions of simple country pleasures, whether in the pastoral poetry of The Passionate Shepheard (1604) or in the prose descriptions of..
Margery Allingham, in full Margery Louise Allingham, (born May 20, 1904, London, England--died June 30, 1966, Colchester, Essex), British detective-story writer of unusual subtlety, wit, and imaginative power who created the bland, bespectacled, keen-witted Albert Campion, one of the most interesting of fictional detectives.Campion's career was begun with a group of ingenious popular thrillers: The Crime at Black Dudley (1928; U.S. title, The Black Dudley Murder), Mystery Mile (1929), Police at the Funeral (1931), and Sweet Danger (1933). A series of more tightly constructed intellectual..
Clive Barnes, British-born American theatre and dance critic (born May 13, 1927, London, Eng.--died Nov. 19, 2008, New York, N.Y.), championed critical dance coverage and made the stage medium accessible to a generation of theatregoers. Following graduation from the University of Oxford, where he worked as an editor for a university dance periodical, Barnes led the charge among young critics aiming to legitimize specialized dance criticism. He freelanced for a time before being hired (1961) as the first full-time dance critic for The Times (London). In 1965 he was hired by the New York Times,..
Angela Carter, original name Angela Olive Stalker, (born May 7, 1940, Eastbourne, Sussex, Eng.--died Feb. 16, 1992, London), British author who reshaped motifs from mythology, legends, and fairy tales in her books, lending them a ghastly humour and eroticism.Carter rejected an Oxford education to work as a journalist with the Croydon Advertiser, but she later studied medieval literature at the University of Bristol (B.A., 1965). She had moderate success with her novels Shadow Dance (1966; also published as Honeybuzzard) and The Magic Toyshop (1967; filmed 1986). Her other novels include..