Sir Francis Bacon
1561 - 1626
Francis Bacon is the Chief figure of the English Renaissance. His advocacy of "action
science" influenced the culture of the entire English speaking world.
Francis Bacon studied law at Cambridge and became Lord Chancellor in 1618. His 'Essays'
has remained the most popular writing, his two greatest scientific works being 'Novum
Organum' and 'The Advancement of Learning' in which he pleaded for the recognition of
science. He insisted on collecting facts first, and then drawing theories from them - a
method which is today called "inductive".
English poet and essayist.
He wrote a peculiarly English form of romantic and nostalgic light
verse, as well as prose works on architecture and social history which reflect his
interest in the Gothic Revival. His Collected Poems appeared 1958 and a verse
autobiography, Summoned by Bells, 1960. He became poet laureate 1972.
Betjeman was born in London and educated at Oxford. During World War II he had a post at
the Admiralty, and after that worked for a time for the British Council. He was a
contemporary of W H Auden at Oxford, but he had little in common with the poets of the
1930s. His verse is backward-looking, traditional in form - favouring iambic lines and a
conversational clarity - and subject matter. He recalls with great precision and affection
details of his childhood in N London and holidays in Cornwall. He also admires and
champions Victorian and Edwardian taste.
A Nip in the Air 1972 and High and Low 1976 are later collections of verse. His books on
architecture include Ghastly Good Taste 1933, A Pictorial History of English Architecture
1972, and West Country Churches 1973.
1757 - 1827
William Blake, the son of a draper from Westminster, was born on 28th
November, 1757. At the age of eleven Blake entered Par's Drawing School in the strand.
Three years later he was indentured as an apprentice to James Basire, engraver to the
Royal Society of Antiquaries. After marrying Catherine Boucher on 18th August 1782, Blake
became a freelance engraver. His main employer was the radical bookseller, Joseph Johnson,
and publisher of works by Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Johnson, who been
involved in establishing London's first Unitarian Chapel in 1774, also influenced Blake's
Blake began to experiment with a new method of engraving. The first of his illuminated
works, Natural Religion, appeared in 1788. The poetry and their illustrations were drawn
in reverse on copper plates in an impervious liquid, then the plain parts eaten away with
acid. After the prints were taken they were coloured by hand. Natural Religion was
followed by Songs of Innocence (1789), Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and Songs of
Experience (1794), a book that deals with topics of corruption and social injustice.
In his books The French Revolution (1791), America: A Prophecy (1793) and Visions of the
Daughters of Albion (1793), Blake developed his attitude of revolt against authority,
combining political belief and visionary ecstasy. Blake feared government persecution and
some of work such as The French Revolution was printed anonymously and was only
distributed to political sympathisers.
In 1800 William Blake moved to Felpham in Sussex, where he was commissioned by William
Hayley to decorate his library with eighteen heads of poets. Hayley also employed Blake to
make the engravings for a Life of Cowper. While at Felpham began work on his epic poems,
Milton and Jerusalem. In these poems Blake provides a complex mixture of prophecy, social
criticism and biblical legend.
A Baptist, he was imprisoned in Bedford in 1660-72 for unlicensed preaching and wrote
Grace Abounding in 1666, which describes his early spiritual life. During a second jail
sentence 1676-77 he started to write The Pilgrim's Progress, the first part of which was
published in 1678. This allegorical story of Christian's spiritual quest is written in
straightforward language with fervour and imagination. Bunyan was born in Elstow, near
Bedford. At 16, he was drafted into the Parliamentary army to fight in the Civil War. His
military career was brief, and in 1647 he returned to Elstow. In 1649 he married a
religious woman. One of the books she brought with her, The Plaine Mans Path-way to
Heaven, exerted a powerful influence on Bunyan; the origin of specific images, such as the
Man with the Muck Rake in The Pilgrim's Progress, have been traced to it. At this period
Bunyan experienced religious doubts and struggles. He suffered a strong conviction of sin,
which attached itself to his mild vices of swearing, dancing, and Sunday games, but after
his conversion experience and joining the Baptists 1653 he became more cheerful and began
preaching in neighbouring villages and publishing religious pamphlets. In 1660 he was
committed to Bedford county jail for unlawful preaching, where he remained for 12 years,
refusing all offers of release conditional on his not preaching again. Set free 1672, he
was elected pastor of the Bedford congregation, but in 1676 he was again arrested and
imprisoned for six months in the jail on Bedford Bridge, where he began The Pilgrim's
Progress. The book was an instant success, and a second part followed 1684. Other works
include The Life and Death of Mr Badman 1680 and The Holy War 1682.
George Gordon (Lord Byron)
The son of Captain John Byron and Catherine Gordon, was born in London
in 1788. Born with a club-foot, he spent the first ten years in his mother's lodgings in
Aberdeen. Although originally a rich women, her fortune had been squandered by her
In 1798 George succeeded to the title, Baron Byron of Rochdale, on the death of his
great-uncle. Money was now available to provide Lord Byron with an education at Harrow
School and Trinty College, Cambridge.
Lord Byron's first collection of poems, Hours of Idleness, appeared in 1807. The poems
were savagely attacked by Henry Brougham in the Edinburgh Review. Byron replied with the
publication of his satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809).
In 1809 Byron set on his grand tour where he visited Spain, Malta, Albania and Greece. His
poetical account of this grand tour, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812) established Byron
as one of England's leading poets.
Byron attending the House of Lords where he became a strong advocate of social reform. In
1811 he was one of the few men in Parliament to defend the actions of the Luddites and the
following year spoke against the Frame Breaking Bill, by which the government intended to
apply the death-penalty to Luddites. Byron's political views influenced the subject matter
of his poems. Important examples include Song for the Luddites (1816) and The Landlords'
Interest (1823). Byron also attacked his political opponents such as the Duke of
Wellington and Lord Castlereagh in Wellington: The Best of the Cut-Throats (1819) and the
The Intellectual Eunuch Castlereagh (1818).
In 1815 Byron married Anne Isabella Milbanke but the relationship came to an end the
following year. Byron moved to Venice where he met the Countess Teresa Guiccioli, who
became his mistress. Some of Byron's best known work belongs to this period including Don
Juan. The last cantos of Don Juan is a satirical description of social conditions in
England and includes attacks on leading Tory politicians.
In 1822 Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Percy Bysshe Shelley travelled to Italy where the three men
published the political journal, The Liberal. By publishing in Italy they remained free
from the fear of being prosecuted by the British authorities. The first edition was mainly
written by Leigh Hunt but also included work by William Hazlitt, Mary Shelley and Byron's
Vision of Judgement sold 4,000 copies. Three more editions were published but after the
death of Shelley in August, 1822, the Liberal came to an end.
For a long time Lord Byron had supported attempts by the Greek people to free themselves
from Turkish rule. This included writing poems such as The Maid of Athens (1810). In 1823
he formed the Byron Brigade and joined the Greek insurgents who had risen against the
Turks. However, in April, 1824, Lord Byron died of marsh fever in Missolonghi before he
saw any military action. .
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
English author of the children's classics Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland in 1865 and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There in
1872. Among later works was the mock-heroic narrative poem The Hunting of the Snark in
1876. He was fascinated by the limits and paradoxes of language and thought, the
exploration of which leads to the apparent nonsense of Alice's adventures. He was a
lecturer at Oxford and also published mathematical works.
Dodgson lectured in mathematics at Oxford 1855-81. There he first told his fantasy stories
to Alice Liddell and her sisters, daughters of the dean of Christ Church. Dodgson was a
prolific letter writer and one of the pioneers of portrait photography - his sitters
included John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, and D G Rossetti, as well as children. He was also
responsible, in his publication of mathematical games and problems requiring the use of
logic, for a general upsurge of interest in such pastimes. He is said to be, after
Shakespeare, the most quoted writer in the English language.
Dodgson was born in Daresbury, Cheshire, and studied mathematics and classics at Oxford.
He was ordained a deacon 1861. In 1867 he visited Russia. His two Alice books brought `
nonsense“ literature to a peak of excellence, and continue to be enjoyed by children and
adults alike. The reasons for their success include the delightful illustrations of John
Tenniel, the eminently quotable verse, and the combination of exciting adventures,
imaginative punning, and humorous characters, such as the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter,
and White Knight, with a more sophisticated level of ingenious imagination which parodies
everything from mathematical to literary theories. His other major works of fiction,
Sylvie and Bruno 1889, which combined a children's story with religious instruction, and
Sylvie and Bruno Concluded 1893, were less successful.
Number games and mathematical works Interested in the use of number games that called for
general intelligence to solve the problems, rather than specialized knowledge, he saw
their potential as teaching aids. His books in this field include A Tangled Tale 1885, The
Game of Logic 1886, and Pillow Problems 1893. The chessboard featured in some of these
games. Several of his books of puzzles suggest an awareness of the theory of sets - the
basis on which most modern mathematical teaching is founded - which was then only just
being formulated by German mathematician Georg Cantor. Dodgson also wrote mathematical
textbooks for the general syllabus, quite a few books on historical mathematics
(particularly on Euclid and his geometry), and a number of specialized papers.
The son of a prosperous London wine merchant and one of the greatest
English poets, whose masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, was one of the most important
influences on the development of English literature. Chaucer greatly increased the
prestige of English as a literary language and extended the range of its poetic
vocabulary. His life is known primarily through records pertaining to his career as a
courtier and civil servant under the English kings Edward III and Richard II.
After his death, he was buried in Westminster Abbey (an honor for a
commoner), in what has since become the Poets' Corner.
Charles John Huffam Dickens
English novelist and one of the most popular writers in the history of
literature. In his enormous body of works, Dickens combined masterly storytelling, humor,
pathos, and irony with sharp social criticism and acute observation of people and places,
both real and imagined.
Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth and spent most of his
childhood in London and Kent, both of which appear frequently in his novels. He started
school at the age of nine, but his education was interrupted when his father, an amiable
but careless minor civil servant, was imprisoned for debt in 1824. The boy was then forced
to support himself by working in a shoe-polish factory. A resulting sense of humiliation
and abandonment haunted him for life, and he later described this experience, only
slightly altered, in his novel David Copperfield. From 1824 to 1826, Dickens again
attended school. For the most part, however, he was self-educated.
The success of his first novel made Dickens famous. At the same time it
influenced the publishing industry in Great Britain, being issued in a rather unusual
form, that of inexpensive monthly installments; this method of publication quickly became
popular among Dickens's contemporaries.
Dickens subsequently maintained his fame with a constant stream of
novels. A man of enormous energy and wide talents, he also engaged in many other
activities. In 1843 he published A Christmas Carol, an ever-popular children's
story. As Dickens matured artistically, his novels developed from comic tales based on the
adventures of a central character, like The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas
Nickleby (1837-1838), to works of great social relevance, psychological insight, and
narrative and symbolic complexity. Among his fine works are Bleak House
(1852-1853), Little Dorritt (1855-1857), Great Expectations (1860-1861), and
Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865). Dickens's major writings include Oliver Twist
(1837-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), Barnaby Rudge (1841), Martin
Chuzzlewit (1843-1844), Dombey and Son (1846-1848), Hard Times (1854), A
Tale of Two Cities (1859), and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished, 1870).
Arthur Conan Doyle
1859 - 1930
Arthur Conan Doyle, the son of Charles Doyle and Mary Foley, was born in
Edinburgh on 22nd May 1859. Arthur's father was an alcoholic and the family was always
short of money. At school, Arthur developed a strong interest in the books written by Sir
Walter Scott and Edgar Allan Poe.
Conan Doyle studied at Edinburgh University and helped to fund his course by working as a
surgeon on Hope, a 400 ton whaler on a seven month voyage to the Arctic. The following
year he worked on Mayumba, a passenger ship bound for West Africa. On this voyage Conan
Doyle nearly died of typhoid. On his return, Conan Doyle set up as a doctor in Southsea, a
suburb of Portsmouth. With very few patients, Conan Doyle attempted to make money by
writing detective stories. His main character, Sherlock Holmes, was based on Dr. Joseph
Bell, a surgeon and criminal psychologist, who lectured at Edinburgh Infirmary.
In 1891 Conan Doyle published six Sherlock Holmes stories in the Strand Magazine. The
following year he was paid £1,000 for a whole series on Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle
really wanted to write historical novels like his hero, Sir Walter Scott, and in 1893
decided to kill off Sherlock Holmes in the story, The Final Problem. However, after coming
under considerable pressure from his fans, he returned to write his best known detective
story, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).
Conan Doyle served as a doctor in the Boer War (1899-1902) and wrote The War in South
Africa (1902), where he attempted to justify Britain's actions during the war.
On 2nd September, 1914, soon after the start of the First World War, the Liberal
politician, Charles Masterman, the head of the War Propaganda Bureau, organised a secret
meeting of Britain's leading writers. to discuss ways of best promoting Britain's
interests during the war. Those who attended to discuss the best way of promoting
Britain's interests during the war included Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield,
Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy,
Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan and H. G. Wells.
All the writers present at the conference agreed to the utmost secrecy, and it was not
until 1935 that the activities of the War Propaganda Bureau became known to the general
public. Several of the men who attending the meeting agreed to write pamphlets and books
that would promote the government's view of the situation.
In 1914 Conan Doyle wrote the recruiting pamphlet, To Arms!. The WPB arranged for Conan
Doyle to go the Western Front and his pamphlet, A Visit to the Three Fronts was published
in 1916. During the war Doyle also wrote his six volume history, The British Campaign in
France and Flanders. Conan Doyle also wrote on the First World War for the Daily
Although fifty-five when the war Conan Doyle also joined the Crowborough Company of the
Sixth Royal Sussex Volunteer Regiment and served as a private throughout the war. His
son,Kingsley Conan Doyle, joined the British Army and was wounded at the Somme. He died in
October, 1917, after developing pneumonia.
After the war Conan Doyle wrote several books on spiritualism including The New Revelation
(1918) and The History of Spiritualism (1926). Arthur Conan Doyle died at Crowborough on
7th July 1930.
Daphne Du Maurier
Her romantic fiction includes Jamaica Inn 1936, Rebecca 1938,
Frenchman's Creek 1942, and My Cousin Rachel 1951, and is set in Cornwall. Her work,
though lacking in depth and original insights, is made compelling by her storytelling
gift. She was the granddaughter of British cartoonist and novelist George Du Maurier. She
wrote a biography of her father, the actor-manager Gerald Du Maurier, in Gerald 1934, and
a record of three generations in The Du Mauriers 1937. Other novels include The Loving
Spirit 1931, The Parasites 1949, The Glassblowers 1963, The Flight of the Falcon 1965,
Rule Britannia 1972, and The Winding Stair 1976. She also published many short stories,
some collected in The Breaking Point 1959, Not after Midnight 1971, and The Rendezvous and
Other Stories 1980. Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and her short story The Birds were made into
films by the English director Alfred Hitchcock. She also wrote three plays and the
nonfiction work The Infernal World of Branwell Brontė 1960.
Her most popular book, Cranford 1853, is the study of a small,
close-knit circle in a small town, modelled on Knutsford, Cheshire, where she was brought
up. Her other books, which often deal with social concerns, include Mary Barton 1848,
North and South 1855, Sylvia's Lovers 1863-64 and the unfinished Wives and Daughters 1866.
She wrote a frank and sympathetic biography of her friend Charlotte Brontė 1857.
She was born in London, and spent much of her youth with her aunt in Knutsford. In 1832
she married William Gaskell (1805-1884), a Unitarian minister from Manchester, and from
then on led a very busy life, bringing up four daughters; helping the unemployed, the
poor, and prostitutes in the slums of Manchester ; and entertaining numerous friends and
acquaintances. The success of Mary Barton established her as a novelist; in this work she
describes with insight and sympathy the life and feelings of working-class people. She
became a friend of Charles Dickens, and also knew Thomas Carlyle and William Thackeray. At
Dickens's invitation she wrote for Household Words, in which Cranford appeared 1851-53.
'Ruth' in 1853 was her second full-length novel, and aroused controversy by having an
unmarried mother as its sympathetically portrayed heroine. North and South was a pendant
to Mary Barton, with more emphasis on the owners' and management side of industrial
relations. Her later works are all set in the country, and are marked by a maturity of
technique. Sylvia's Lovers is a powerful romance set in the days of the press gang. Cousin
Phyllis 1863-64 is a delicate prose idyll. Her last and finest work, Wives and Daughters,
appeared in the Cornhill Gazette and was left unfinished when she died suddenly.
English lexicographer, author, and critic
Dr Johnson was a brilliant conversationalist and the dominant figure in
18th-century London literary society. His Dictionary, published 1755, remained
authoritative for over a century, and is still remarkable for the vigour of its
definitions. In 1764 he founded the Literary Club, whose members included the painter
Joshua Reynolds, the political philosopher Edmund Burke, the dramatist Oliver Goldsmith,
the actor David Garrick, and James Boswell, Johnson's biographer.
Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, the son of a bookseller, Johnson was
educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself but was prevented by
lack of money from taking a degree. He is buried in Westminster Abbey and his house in
Gough Square, London, is preserved as a museum.
(Joseph) Rudyard Kipling
Actually born in Bombay whilst India was under British rule, Kipling was
educated at the United Services College at Westward Ho!, Devon, England. Plain Tales from
the Hills 1888, about Anglo-Indian society, contains the earliest of his masterly short
stories. His books for children, including The Jungle Book 1894-95, Just So Stories 1902,
Puck of Pook's Hill 1906, and the picaresque novel Kim 1901, reveal his imaginative
identification with the exotic. Poems such as `Danny Deever“, `Gunga Din“, and `If-“
express an empathy with common experience, which contributed to his great popularity,
together with a vivid sense of `Englishness“. His work is increasingly valued for its
complex characterisation and subtle moral viewpoints. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1907.
In 1926 he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of
Literature; he received many other honours, including associate membership of the French
Académie des Sciences et Politiques. Kipling was well travelled and lived in many
countries until finally settling in Sussex, South East England. He is buried in Poets'
Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608, and educated at Saint
Paul's School and Christ's College, University of Cambridge. He intended to become a
clergyman in the Church of England, but growing dissatisfaction with the state of the
Anglican clergy together with his own developing poetic interests led him to abandon this
He became totally blind in about 1652 and thereafter carried on his
literary work helped by an assistant; with the aid also of the poet Andrew Marvell.
John Milton's work is marked by cosmic themes and lofty religious
idealism; it reveals an astonishing breadth of learning and command of the Greek, Latin,
and Hebrew classics. His blank verse is of remarkable variety and richness, so skillfully
modulated and flexible that it has been compared to organ tones.
Paradise Lost is considered Milton's masterpiece and one of the greatest
poems in world literature. In its 12 cantos he tells the story of the fall of Adam in a
context of cosmic drama and profound speculations. The poet's announced aim was to
"justify the ways of God to men." The poem was written with soaring imagination
and far-ranging intellectual grasp in his most forceful and exalted style. Paradise
Regained, which tells of human salvation through Christ, is a shorter and lesser work,
although still one of great richness and strength. Milton is often considered the greatest
English poet after Shakespeare.
English naval administrator and diarist.
His Diary 1660-69 is a unique record of the daily life of the period,
the historical events of the Restoration, the manners and scandals of the court, naval
administration, and Pepys's own interests, weaknesses, and intimate feelings. Written in
shorthand, it was not deciphered until 1825.
Pepys entered the Navy Office 1660 and was secretary to the Admiralty 1672-79. He was
imprisoned 1679 in the Tower of London on suspicion of being connected with the Popish
Plot. In 1684 he was reinstated as secretary to the Admiralty, but finally resigned his
post after the 1688 Revolution. He published Memoires of the Navy 1690. Pepys abandoned
writing his diary because he believed, mistakenly, that his eyesight was about to fail -
in fact, it continued to serve him for 30 or more years of active life.
The original manuscript of the Diary, preserved in Cambridge together with other papers,
is in six volumes, containing more than 3,000 pages. It is closely written in cipher (a
form of shorthand). Highlights include his accounts of the Great Plague of London 1665,
the Fire of London 1666, and the sailing up the Thames of the Dutch fleet 1667.
Pepys was born in London, the son of John Pepys, a tailor. He was
educated at St Paul's School, London, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 1659, he
entered the Exchequer as a clerk, becoming clerk of the council the same year. In 1660 he
became a clerk of the Privy Seal and `clerk of the King's ships“. He rose to become
secretary of the Admiralty 1672-79, where he carried out drastic and far-reaching reforms.
He was also a member of Parliament for Castle Rising 1673, exchanging his constituency for
that of Harwich 1679.An Admiralty minute of 1805 spoke of Pepys as `a man of extraordinary
knowledge, of great talent and the most indefatigable in industry“.
1564 - 1616
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Around 1591 he
moved to London and became an actor. He joined the Lord Chamberlain's company of players,
later 'the King's Men'. When the company built the Globe Theatre in 1597, he became a
partner, living at a house in Silver Street until c.1606, then moving near the Globe. He
returned to Stratford c.1610, living as a country gentleman at his house, New Place.
Shakespeare is generally acknowledged to be one of the most extraordinary writers in
history. His 28 plays and 154 sonnets explore the complexity of the human soul with
unparalleled insight. No other writer's plays have been produced so many times in so many
countries. His creative power is one of the great feature of his genius, and to many
people Hamlet, or King Lear seem far more real than historical characters like Caesar.
Authorship is still a controversial subject for certain plays, and the modern era of
Shakespeare scholarship has been marked by an enormous amount of investigation into the
authorship, text, and chronology of the plays, including detailed studies of the age in
which he lived, and of the Elizabethan stage.
George Bernard Shaw
1856 - 1950
G. B. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, and became the most significant British playwright
of the last 300 years.
In addition to being a prolific playwright (he wrote 50 stage plays), he was also the most
trenchant pamphleteer since the Irish-born satirist Jonathan Swift and the most readable
music critic and best theatre critic of his generation. He was also one of literature's
great letter writers.
Shaw was mostly concerned with social problems and early on became a member of the
socialist Fabian Society. He was also a brilliant novelist and critic, and many consider
him the greatest satirist of this century. Among his works are 'Caesar and Cleopatra' ;
'Man and Superman' ; 'Saint Joan' ; 'Back to Methuselah'. 'Man and Superman' is a dramatic
parable based on the legend of Don Juan, it contains a famous dream scene called 'Don Juan
in Hell' involving a debate with the devil. Shaw continued to write into his 90s.
To the end, Shaw continued to publish brilliantly argued prefaces to his plays and to
flood publishers with books, articles, and cantankerous letters to the editor.
H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells
1866 - 1946
English author and political philosopher, most famous for his
science-fantasy novels with their prophetic depictions of the triumphs of technology as
well as the horrors of 20th-century warfare.
Wells was born September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent, and educated at the
Normal School of Science in London, to which he won a scholarship. He worked as a draper's
apprentice, bookkeeper, tutor, and journalist until 1895, when he became a full-time
writer. His novel The Time Machine (1895) mingled science, adventure, and political
comment. Later works in this genre are The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the
Worlds (1898), and The Shape of Things to Come (1933); each of these fantasies
was made into a film.
Wells also wrote novels devoted to character delineation. Among these
are Kipps (1905) and The History of Mr. Polly (1910), which depict members
of the lower middle class and their aspirations. After World War I (1914-1918) Wells wrote
an immensely popular historical work, The Outline of History (2 volumes, 1920).
Throughout his long life Wells was deeply concerned with and wrote
voluminously about the survival of contemporary society. For a time he was a member of the
Fabian Society. He envisioned a utopia in which the vast and frightening material forces
available to modern men and women would be rationally controlled for progress and for the
equal good of all.
Oscar Wilde (Fingal
With his flamboyant style and quotable conversation, he dazzled London
society and, on his lecture tour 1882, the USA. He published his only novel, The Picture
of Dorian Gray, 1891, followed by a series of sharp comedies, including A Woman of No
Importance 1893 and The Importance of Being Earnest 1895. In 1895 he was imprisoned for
two years for homosexual offences; he died in exile.
Wilde was born in Dublin and studied at Dublin and Oxford, where he became known as a
supporter of the Aesthetic movement (`art for art's sake“). He published Poems 1881, and
also wrote fairy tales and other stories, criticism, and a long, anarchic political essay,
`The Soul of Man Under Socialism“ 1891. His elegant social comedies include Lady
Windermere's Fan 1892 and An Ideal Husband 1895. The drama Salome 1893, based on the
biblical character, was written in French; considered scandalous by the British censor, it
was first performed in Paris 1896 with the actress Sarah Bernhardt in the title role.
1770 - 1850
English poet, one of the most accomplished and influential of England's
romantic poets, whose theories and style created a new tradition in poetry.
Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland, and
educated at Saint John's College, University of Cambridge. He developed a keen love of
nature as a youth, and during school vacation periods he frequently visited places noted
for their scenic beauty. Although Wordsworth had begun to write poetry while still a
schoolboy, none of his poems was published until 1793, when An Evening Walk and Descriptive
Sketches appeared. These works, although fresh and original in content, reflect the
influence of the formal style of 18th-century English poetry.
His work is generally taken to mark the beginning of the romantic
movement in English poetry.
In 1813 Wordsworth obtained a sinecure as distributor of stamps for
Much of Wordsworth's easy flow of conversational blank verse has true
lyrical power and grace, and his finest work is permeated by a sense of the human
relationship to external nature that is religious in its scope and intensity.