Blupete's Biography Page


The Classical Fiction Writers:

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-A-

  • Auchincloss, Louis (1917-2012)
    Auchincloss was a practicing lawyer (New York City) He became a successful writer of fiction, including: Tales of Manhattan (1964-67), I Come as a Thief (1972), The Partners (1974), and The Winthrop Covenant (1976) He wrote non-fiction too, including: Life, Law and Letters, in which Auchincloss makes reference to Holmes, Cardozo, Jane Austen, Astor, Vanderbilt, Dreiser, Lytton Strachey, Saint-Simon, Thackeray (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979); and A Writer's Capital (University of Minnesota Press, 1974)
  • Austen, Jane (1775-1817)

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    -B-
  • Balzac, Honoré de (1799-1850)
  • Bennett, Arnold (1867-1931)
  • Blackmore, Richard Doddridge (1825-1900)
    "His books are particularly notable for their secondary characters and for descriptions of England's West Country." (Benet's.) His most notable work: Lorna Doone (1868)
  • Borrow, George Henry (1803-81)
    Trained as a lawyer, Borrow had a working knowledge of at least twelve languages; he traveled and read widely. Borrow's novels were mostly biographical; his best two works were Lavengro (1851) and its sequel, The Romany Rye (1857) (For a sample of Borrow's writing see his essay, "The Stage-Coachmen Of England: A Bully Served Out.")
  • Bronte, Charlotte (1816-55)
    Charlotte wrote under the pen name of Currer Bell. Charlotte's mother died in 1821 and with the help of her aunt, her father, Rev. Patrick Bronte the six Bronte children (two of which died relatively early on) were brought up at their home on the Yorkshire moors. Augustine Birrell, one of my favourite writers, wrote a biography on Charlotte Bronte. The work Charlotte Bronte is famous for is Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Bronte, Emily (1818-48)
    Another of the Bronte girls, Emily's pen name was Ellis Bell. (The pen name of the third sister, Anne, 1820-49, was known as Acton) The work Emily Bronte is famous for is Wuthering Heights (1847)
  • Buchan, John (1875-1940)
    Born at Perth, Buchan was educated at Glasgow University and at Oxford. In 1901 Buchan was called to the bar. He became a director of Nelson's, the publishers. He served on H.Q. staff during WWI, and, afterwards, wrote Nelson's History of the War. From 1927-35 he was an M.P. In 1935, Buchan was raised to the peerage (Lord Tweedsmuir), also in this year, 1935, he became the governor-general of Canada. Despite a busy public life Buchan wrote over fifty books; "he found his forte as a writer of fast-moving adventure stories." Probably his best known book was The Thirty-nine Steps.
  • Buck, Pearl Sydenstricker (1892-1973)
    "I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings. Like Confucius of old, I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and the angels. I have enough for this life. If there is no other life, then this one has been enough to make it worth being born, myself a human being." (I Believe, 1939.) The work for which Pearl S. Buck will always be remembered is The Good Earth. Buck was awarded a Nobel prize in 1938.
  • Butler, Samuel (1835-1902)
    Butler's father was a cleric, with whom he forever quarrelled. After having received an education at St. John's College, Cambridge, Butler gave it all up and went off to New Zealand to become a sheep farmer. By 1864 he had returned to England and lived out his days in London. He was greatly influenced by Darwin's work. He published translations of the Iliad (1898) and the Odyssey (1900.) In addition to writing Butler composed musical pieces. Butler's best known books were Erewhon and The Way Of All Flesh. For a sample of Butler's writing see one of his essays which we have put up, "Ramblings In Cheapside." Butler's works are readily available on the 'NET.

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    -C-
  • Carroll, Lewis (1832-98)
    Lewis Carroll was the Pen name of Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford. Carroll was shy and stammering.
  • Camus, Albert (1913-60)
    French philosopher, awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1957, Camus was one of the intellectual leaders of the resistance movement during WWII. While part of Jean Paul Sartre and his circle, he differed with him philosophically, "the tragedy of man's failure to apprehend his condition or, if he does, to find the human values by which he can transcend it." He died in a car crash while returning to Paris from the South of France. His works include: The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1948), The Rebel (1954), and The Fall (1957)
  • Cervantes, Miguel de (1547-1616)
  • Conrad, Joseph (1857-1924)
    Conrad was the son of a Polish nobleman. In his youth he was adventurous. He knew no English at all, when, at age 21, he went to sea on a British merchant ship. He learned to write the English language and eventually wrote it like few others ever could; he is one of the best descriptive writers that ever lived; he had a "masterful narrative technique." He rose through the ranks at sea to become a ship's captain. In 1895, he put his sea life behind him and came ashore. He became a naturalized British subject. "This rapid transition from a life of isolation to one of fellowship, from seaman to landsman, from captain to writer - indeed, from bachelor to family man - is part of the romance of Conrad's biography." (Preface, Heart of Darkness.) Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Nostromo are likely Conrad's best three works.
    Bertrand Russell knew Conrad and made some interesting comments about him. [Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1872-1914) (Boston: Little, Brown; 1967) at pp. 320-23.] "He was an aristocratic Polish gentlemen to his fingertips." So too, ibid., Russell gives an outline of Heart of Darkness, "in which a rather weak and idealist is driven mad by horror of the tropical forest and loneliness among savages." It is a story, Russell thought, which expressed Conrad's philosophy of life. It is a view which is opposite of that of Rousseau: it is not that man is born in chains and must seek his freedom, but rather he is born free and through his thoughts and action slips himself into chains. "He become free, so I believe Conrad would have said, not by letting loose his impulses, not by being casual and uncontrolled, but by subduing wayward impulse to a dominant purpose."

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    -D-
  • Dana, Richard Henry (1815-82)
    As a young man Dana shipped out as a common sailor, and on the Pilgrim he voyaged around Cape Horn in 1834. On his return home, in 1836, he finished law school, and was admitted to the bar. In 1840 his work, - taken from the journals that he kept, Two Years Before the Mast was published, a book that influenced both Melville and Conrad.
  • Defoe, Daniel (1660-1731)
  • Dickens, Charles (1812-70)
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor (1821-81)
    The best known of Dostoevsky's works are Crime & Punishment (1866) and The Brothers Karamozov (1879-80)
  • Dreiser, Theodore (1871-1945)
    H. L. Mencken was a Dreiser fan, liked The Titan and Sister Carrie. Another popular book of Dreiser's is An American Tragedy (1925)

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    -E-
  • Eliot, George (1819-80)
    George Eliot was the pen name of Marian Evans. Sir W. Robertson Nicoll says, "the finest conversation in the world is to be found in George Eliot's novels, - Boswell's Johnson is practically monologue." [People and Books (London: Hodder & Stoughton, nd)] One of Nicoll's most favourite scenes in fiction, is to be found in Silas Marner, the scene in the Rainbow public house, Chap. vi.

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    -F-
  • Faulkner, William. (1897-1962)
    Born in Mississippi, Faulkner grew up there, in Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner was of an aristocratic family. His father, having been a colonel in the confederate army, followed up with careers as a lawyer, politician and railroad builder. Faulkner first started out working in his grandfather's bank. He was rejected by the US military (too short) and was training with the Canadian Air Force when WWI came to an end. Most of Faulkner's stories are set in the imaginary County of Yoknapatawpha (based on his home town, Oxford); they deal with southern aristocracy, the relations of the black and the white, modern life, and the alienation and loneliness of the 20th century man. Faulkner won the Nobel prize in literature in 1949. Faulkner works, include: The Sound and the Fury, 1929; As I Lay Dying, 1930; and Sanctuary, 1931. Sanctuary is considered an "extraordinary examination of a criminal personality, a book of great craft, allegorical in intent." (Benet's.)
  • Fielding, Henry (1707-54)
    Fielding, a lawyer, is best known for Tom Jones (1749)
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940)
    In 1920, Fitzgerald married the beautiful judge's daughter, Zelda Sayre, from Alabama: "together they embarked on a life that reads like one of his novels ... it was a rich, glamorous and intoxicating life." They lived on the Riviera, in Paris, New York, Long Island and Washington. It eventually ended with Zelda's incurable mental illness and Fitzgerald's breakdown. His more noteworthy works: The Great Gatsby and The Last Tycoon.
  • Flaubert, Gustave (1821-80)
    The French novelist, Flaubert was born into a family headed by a medical doctor. Young Gustave was sent off to study law, but his heart was not in it; and it was said that all that was accomplished by forcing the young man into a study he did not wish to pursue was a nervous condition. Flaubert's writings were morbid and pessimistic. These traits, together with a "violent hatred and contempt for bourgeois society" are evident in his masterpiece, Madame Bovary (1857)
  • Forster, Edward Morgan (1879-1970)
    Born in London, Forster went up to Cambridge for an education. "In his novels he examined with subtle insight the pre-1914 English middle-class ethos and its custodians the civil service, the Church and the Public Schools." (Chambers.) His novels: The Longest Journey (1907), Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910) Forster's masterpiece came after having spent some time in India as a secretary to a Maharajah, A Passage to India (1924) Lord David Cecil was to write Forster's biography.
  • France, Anatole (1844-1924)
    Anatole France is the pen name of Jacques Anatole Thibault. Born in Paris, Anatole France was one of the most famous literary men in France; he won the Nobel Prise in Literature in 1921. His best known work is likely Penguin Island (1908), a work is available on the 'net'; it is a humorous critique of customs and laws, rituals and rites, its subject is human nature, but its characters are penguins in the mythical land of Penguinia." (New York: Random House, Modern Lib.)

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    -G-
  • Galsworthy, John (1867-1933)
    Galsworthy was educated at Harrow and then at Oxford. While he was called to the bar, Galsworthy, however, elected not to practise law but rather to travel and to write. He is, of course, famous for his Forsyte saga, a documentary of his times; he wrote of the "affluent middle class." The sequence began with A Man of Property (1906) and continued with In Chancery (1920) and To Let (1922) Galsworthy won, in 1932, the Nobel Prize in Literature. (For samples of Galsworthy's thoughts and his writing see his essays which we have put up here at www.blupete.com : "Evolution," "A Portrait," "Some Platitudes Concerning Drama" and "Art.")
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn (1810-65)
    Mrs. Gaskell is "known for her depictions of English country life and for her pioneering studies of conflicts between capital and labor in Victorian industrialism. ... [Her books] are notable for their sympathetic portrayal of the oppressed laboring classes in mid-19th-century England." (Benet's.) She was a friend of many literary figures, including George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte (Mrs. Gaskell wrote Bronte's biography in 1857) Cranford (1853) is a good example of Mrs. Gaskell's work; it deals with the life of the peaceful little English village of Cranford (modelled on Knutsford), inhabited chiefly by old ladies who practice elegant economy and quaint social customs.
  • Gissing, George Robert (1857-1903)
    Caught stealing money from his classmates, Gissing was expelled from school and sent to prison. On his release from prison Gissing "spent a year of privation and wondering through the U.S." On his return from American he married a girl whom he had met while at school (a penniless prostitute) He continued to live in poverty. His poverty gave him at least this: time, time to read and write. "Gissing's love of the classics, the hardships of his life, and his mixed idealism and pessimism are reflected in his best known novels, The Nether World (1881) and New Grub Street (1891)"
    Goldsmith, Oliver (1728-74)
    Goldsmith was born in Ireland and attended Trinity College, Dublin. His first years at Trinity were rocky. He showed no particular ability, indeed, he got himself involved in a riot and thereafter ran away. His brother was to catch up with him, and, eventually, Oliver returned to Trinity and was to receive his B.A. Next his family fixed him up with £50, so that he might go to London to study law; but, he did not make it to London as he lost the £50 at the gaming tables at Dublin. In 1752, Oliver went off to Edinburgh to study medicine, but, as Chambers points out, while there for the two years, he "was more noted for his social gifts than his professional acquirements." Goldsmith tried practising medicine, but it did not work for him. He turned to writing turning out essays and making contributions to the magazines of the day. In 1766 he came out with a novel, The Vicar of Wakefield; it was to make his reputation as a novelist. In 1773, he brought out the comedy She Stoops To Conquer, the second work for which Goldsmith will be remembered. (For a sample of Goldsmith's writing see his essay, "A City Night-Piece.")
  • Greene, Graham (1904-92)
    In the preface of Stamboul Train, Greene quotes Santayana: "Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence; tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence." Any reader who quotes Santayana is worth reading. Graham Greene wrote: The Heart of the Matter (1948), Stamboul Train (1932), A Burnt-out Case (1961), The Third Man (1950), The Quiet American (1955), Loser Takes All (1955), and The Power and the Glory (1940)
  • Guthrie, A. B. (1901- )
    A newspaperman for 20 years before, in 1947, he wrote The Big Sky. His novels "provide a history of the opening of the west, the Western migration, and frontier life. Carefully researched, they are evocative stories that avoid Western stereotypes." (Benet's.) Check out his book, The Big Sky and The Way West, the 1950 Pulitzer.

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    -H-
  • Hardy, Thomas (1840-1928)
    Sir W. Robertson Nicoll (People and Books) was to note in respect to Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), that: "There is not a book perhaps so rich in gems of thought and speech." Hardy works for which he is most noted in addition, are: Tess of the D'urbervilles (1891) and The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
  • Hawthorne, Nathanial (1804-64)
    Though raised in Raymond, Maine, Hawthorne was born in Salem, Mass. As a lonely youth, Hawthorne turned to writing which was for him to be a life's career. Hawthorne's most famous novels were The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851) According to Chambers, "Hawthorne was only gradually recognized in his own country."
  • Hemingway, Ernest (1899-1961)
    A craftsman, Hemingway's terse style (earlier on in his writing career he had been a newspaperman and foreign correspondent), his "dramatic understatement and superb dialogue," eventually won for him a Nobel prize in 1954. Out of rural Illinois, son of a doctor, he went off to WWI at age eighteen as an ambulance driver; he was seriously wounded. He was a correspondent for the Toronto Star for a period of time. "Papa" Hemingway had an enthusiasm for life: hunting, fishing, drinking, and eating; he died from his own hand. He will be singularly known for his work, A Farewell to Arms (1929) "... a vivid and impeccably written love story about a war-time ambulance driver and a nurse." (Benet's)
  • Howells, Wm. Dean (1837-1920)
    Howells is described as "The doyen of American literature." The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) is "... generally considered as Howell's best." (Boston: Houghton Mifflin.)
  • Hugo, Victor (1802-85)
    If you are to read this great French writer and activist, then start with either Les Miserables or Toilers of the Sea. One will find a biography on Hugo's daughter, Adele Hugo, on this site.
  • Huxley, Aldous (1894-1963)
    Huxley's early work was "witty, despairing evocations of society in the 1920s," but his work in his later years, due to his feelings of mysticism, differed sharply; eventually he pursued various occult studies. Huxley's most popular novel was Brave New World (1932)

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    -I-

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    -J-
  • James, Henry (1843-1916)
    Henry James came from a very "distinguished family"; his grandfather was one of America's first millionaires, and his father was a theologian. Attended Harvard Law School in 1862. Wm. Dean Howells promoted him. Visited Italy in 1869; continued to visit and write about Italy for the rest of his life. James is "a major figure in the history of the novel; ... [his themes]: "the relationship between innocence and experience ['the confrontation of European and American civilizations']; ... the dilemma of the artist in an alien society; and the achievement of self-knowledge. ... In his later work, James was to see his theme in a more complex light: the innocently unaware may themselves be the cause of evil in others." (Benet's.) James wrote fiction as an artist, and was very careful in the creation of his characters. James's The Portrait of a Lady is considered, by some, to be the finest novel in the English language.

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    -K-
  • Kafka, Franz (1883-1924)
    Born in Prague, trained in law, Kafka was the only son of a self made Jewish businessman. An unhappy man, Kafka spent fourteen years in a bureaucratic position with an insurance company. Coming down with tuberculosis, he was forced to retire. Kafka intended that his work should be burnt on his death; his friend, however, disregarded these instructions and had Kafka's work published, posthumously.
  • Kipling, Rudyard(1865-1936)
    Born in India of English parents, Kipling was sent back to England for his education. At age 17 he returned to India and worked there as a civil servant, when, in 1889, he returned to England via Japan and America. He met and married an American and went to live in Vermont for 5 years in the 1890s. In his writings he glorified the British empire; it was "his conviction that it was both the right and responsibility of the English to civilize the heathen of the world, memorably stated in his poem "The White Man's Burden."
  • Koestler, Arthur (1905-1983)
    Born in Hungary, raised in Vienna, Koestler, at the age of 21, went to Palestine as a reporter, - soon he was to become an ardent Zionist. Joined the Communist Party in 1931 and remained with the party up to the time of the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s. In 1936, he covered the Spanish Civil War for an English newspaper; he was arrested as a spy by the fascists and sentenced to death. British intervention got him out of his predicament, only to find himself in France at the outbreak of WW II; Koestler, once again, was arrested and sent off to a detention camp. Koestler studied a vast range of subjects from neurophysiology and molecular biology to behavioral psychology; he became disillusioned by numerous ideologies, but eventually settled into a position that has been described as the "nonaligned left." Being sick and old, he, together with his wife, took his own life. His work, Darkness At Noon (1941) is rooted in the Russia of 1936-1938, the time of Stalin's great purge; the "Moscow trials." While Koestler is careful in the manner in which he refers to the names of persons, dates and places, to the historian, particularly one who knew something about his life, it would be clear, of whom and of what Koestler's writes

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    -L-
  • Lawrence, D. H. (1885-1930)
    Son of a coal miner and former schoolteacher, Lawrence, in his writings, "portrayed with vivid realism English provincial life - its economic hardships, class conflicts, and pastoral beauty in the process of erosion by industrialization."
  • Leacock, Stephen (1869-1944)
  • London, Jack (1876-1916)
    "A millionaire socialist and intellectual braggart - a prodigious free spirit of profound contradictions and a voracious appetite for life - Jack London died at the age of forty from an overdose of morphine." (From the cover of Andrew Sinclair's biography.)

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    -M-
  • Marryat, Frederick (1792-1848)
    My interest in things nautical led me to Marryat, particularly his novel, Peter Simple (1834) Marryat joined the British navy and served as an officer during the days when the seas were traveled by square riggers. He was to see action during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1830, he retired to a life of letters. "As a writer of sea stories Marryat has no superior; his sea fights, his chases and cutting-out expeditions, are told with irresistible gusto." (Chambers.)
  • Maugham, W. Somerset (1874-1965)
    Born in Paris, W. Somerset Maugham was the son of a British embassy official. After attending Heidelberg University he went off, at the request of his family, to study medicine at St. Thomas' Hospital, London; he never practised; he spent his life as a writer. "... One of the most gifted literary craftsmen of his age ... a man of generous impulses and free from conceit, he is quite willing to admit outsiders into his workshop and to show them 'what materials he thought worth gathering, and how he gathered them ..." (Harold Nicolson, The Observer.)
    W. Somerset Maugham works include: Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon & Sixpence (1919), Cakes & Ale (1930), Christmas Holidays (1939), Catalina (1948), and The Razor's Edge (1945) Other works, include: The Gentleman in the Parlour (New York: Doubleday, 1933), The Summing Up (1938), (New York: Inter. Coll., 1938), A Writer's Notebook (London: Readers Union, 1951) (This book was "one of the special editions produced for sale to its [Readers Union] members only), and (a book I value highly) Great Novelists & Their Novels (Tolstoy, Balzac, Fielding, Austen, Stendhal, Bronte, Flaubert, Dickens, Dostoevsky & Melville) (Philadelphia: Winston, 1948, 1st Ed.)
  • Maupassant, Guy de (1850-93)
    Maupassant was born and spent his life in Normany. As a young man he was a soldier and fought in the war, after which he became a government clerk. Flaubert, a friend of his mother, encouraged Maupassant to write. Together with Zola and others, Maupassant wrote in a style or method characterized by close adherence to, and faithful representation of, nature or reality: in literature known as Naturalism. Naturalism is "a view of the world, and of man's relation to it, in which only the operation of natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces is admitted or assumed. Also, the view that moral concepts can be analysed in terms of concepts applicable to natural phenomena." (OED.) In Chambers we see where Maupassant's stories were "free from sentimentality or idealism, they lay bare with minute and merciless observation the pretentiousness and vulgarity of the middle class of the period and the animal cunning and traditional meanness of the Norman peasant."
  • Melville, Herman (1819-91)
    Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Foretopman , Typee and Benito Cereno are just some of Melville's works.
  • Meredith, George (1828-1909)
    An English novelist, Meredith reflected in his writings his hatred of egotism and sentimentality. He believed in the intellectual equality of women, and many of his ideas, while now appearing dated, were politically and socially ahead of his time. Here is a short list of Meredith's work: The Egoist (1879), Shaving of Shagpat (1898), Evan Harrington (1896) (A romance of social climbing), The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, A History of a Father and Son (1859) (The partly biographical tragedy of an educational theory mistakenly applied), and An Essay on Comedy (1877)

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    -N-

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    -O-
  • O. Henry (1862-1910)
    O.Henry was the pen name for William Sydney Porter, an American short story writer. Born in North Carolina, Porter eventually found himself to be in Texas where he became the editor and publisher of the Rolling Stone. At some point Porter was charged with embezzlement; he fled the country and was to live in Central America. In time, he came back to the United States and faced the music; he was, after that, to spend over three years in a federal penitentiary. While in prison, O.Henry wrote his first story to be published, Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking (1899) He was to become an extremely popular and prolific writer. His favourite characters were shop girls, tramps; and, in general, the humble and the lowly. In 1906 he brought out The Four Million, a collection of 25 short stories among which was The Gift of the Magi. Another short story which proved very popular is the one entitled, The Last Leaf. This story is typical of the short stories of O. Henry. It is the account of a desperately ill girl; she has pneumonia. She is stuck in a small apartment in Greenwich Village (the setting for most all of his stories was New York City). Just outside of her window she can see a vine which is dropping its leaves and it comes down to the point where the sick girl can only count five left. She determines that she will die when the last leaf drops off. They all in turn drop off, one by one, except for one which hangs on, and on. The girl does recover; and, there is a typical O.Henry twist at the end of the story. Francis Hackett wrote of O.Henry
    "... he never told his story in the first paragraph but invariably began with patter and palaver, like a conjurer at a fair, it was the art of the anecdote that hooked the public. He planned, first of all, to make his theme straight and clear, as a preacher does who gives the text. Then he established his people with bold, brilliant strokes, like a great cartoonist. But the barb was always a surprise, adroitly prepared, craftily planted, and to catch him at it is an exercise for a detective." [On Judging Books (New York: Day, 1947) at p. 294.]
  • Orwell, George (1903-1950)
    George Orwell was the pen name of the Englishman, Eric Arthur Blair. Orwell, after an education at Eaton went out into the larger world and found a position with the Indian Imperial Police and served in Burma between the years 1922-1927. Returning west he lived the life of a castaway in Paris and in London making a little money at times as either a tutor or a bookshop assistant. He got himself into the Spanish Civil War, undoubtedly, on the socialists side, and managed to get himself wounded. Orwell turned himself out for WWII acting as a war corespondent, returning reports for the B.B.C. and for both the Observer and the Tribune. It was after the war years, and after his thoughts had matured, that Orwell wrote the works for which he will be remembered: Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) in which he deals with the dark side of implementing collectivist notions through state action.
  • Ouida (1839-1908)
    Ouida is the pen-name of Louise de La Ramee. She wrote romantic novels; two, for which she is best know, are Strathmore (1865) and, her best, Under Two Flags (1868) Though born in England Louise moved to Italy in 1874, there to make her home. Chambers reports that she "died in poverty at Lucca."

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    -P-
  • Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849)
    "... Born to an actress in a Boston rooming house," forty years later "he was found dying in a Baltimore gutter."

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    -Q-

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    -R-
  • Richardson, Samuel (1689-1761)
    Richardson began his career in 1706 as an apprentice printer in London, and later came to write fiction. His first work was Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded; it came out in 1741. Though written as a series of letters (epistolary), it was, however a work of fiction; and, up to that point fiction was much frowned upon. His production of Pamela is considered by many to have made Richardson the originator of the English novel. Richardson followed up with Clarissa; it is one of the longest novels in the English language (also epistolary in form); it recounts the rake Lovelace's seduction of Clarissa Harlowe. "With her charm Clarissa is too much the victim of her pride for her tragedy to be truly moving and Lovelace is too ambiguous a character to be credible. Nevertheless, our ancestors wallowed through the seven volumes issued in 1748." (Chambers.)
  • Rolland, Romain (1866-1944)
    Rolland was French. In 1910, he was to become professor of the History of Music at the Sorbonne. He was to write the biographies of Michelangelo (1906), Beethoven (1910), Handel (1910), Tolstoy (1911) and Gandhi (1924) Rolland's most important novel (he wrote several) is Jean-Christophe written between the years 1904 and 1912. Rolland was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1915. Rolland, having moved to Switzerland, lived out most of his life there. Romain Rolland was an outspoken person against Fascism and Nazism; his literary works contain a wealth of social and political ideas.

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    -S-
  • Sade, Marquis de (1740-1814)
    De Sade's works are known for their pornographic and blasphemous subject matter. The French authorities were continually locking him up, he wrote many of his books in prison, he died there.
  • Scott, Sir Walter (1771-1832)
  • Smollett, Tobias (1721-1771)
    Scottish born, Smollett served [War of the Spanish Succession (1739-4)] as a surgeon's mate on a navy ship, Chichester. He saw service in the West Indies and lived a few years on the island of Jamaica. Smollett was noted for his well-drawn eccentric characters, particularly those of a nautical type. He eventually returned to London and carried on a practise as a surgeon. He wrote about his adventures in The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748)
  • Steinbeck, John (1902-1968)
    Born in California, Steinbeck was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. "A writer of proletarian sympathies, he is noted for his realistic studies of life among the depressed economic classes of the U.S., especially the itinerant farm laborers of California." (Benet's.)
  • Stendhal (1783-1842)
    Stendhal was the pen name for Marie Henri Beyle; he was "one of France's greatest literary artists," an admirer of Napoleon and Lord Byron; Stendhal's work is autobiographical. His principal works: The Charterhouse of Parma (1827) and The Red & The Black (1830)
  • Sterne, Laurence (1713-68)
    Sterne was born in Ireland; he died in London. Sterne spent his earlier life obscurely in charge of a "small Yorkshire vicarship." He was vaulted into the literary world when, at age 47, he published his first novel, Tristram Shandy. Tristram became quite a popular work in London, even though "denounced" by the likes of Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith and Richardson, and others, on moral and literary grounds. "Two views of his character have held sway: Sterne the accomplished scoundrel and Sterne the sentimental humorist." (See Bagehot's Literary Studies.)
  • Swift, Jonathan (1667-1745)

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  • Thackeray, William Makepeace (1811-1863)
  • Tolstoy, Leo (1828-1910)
  • Trollope, Anthony (1815-82)
    A post office official, Trollope was born and died in London. It would seem by his writings that he advocated "senicide." Two of Trollope's works which I have on my book shelf are Framley Parsonage (1860) (A reader should begin with this book, because it is one of his "very best, and also because it is complete and independent in itself.") and, the other, is The Warden (1855) ("Whilst wandering ... around the purlieus of the cathedral [Salisbury] I conceived the story of The Warden.") Trollope published his autobiography in 1883.
  • Twain, Mark (1835-1910)
    Mark Twain is the pen Name of Samuel Clemens. Born in Missouri, for a while, Clements worked as a pilot on the Mississippi.

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    -W-
  • Wells, H. G.(1866-1946)
  • Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900) &
    The Irish born Wilde, in 1871, attended Trinity College, Dublin; there he won a Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek, and was elected to a Queen's Scholarship. He went on to Oxford taking a scholarship at Magdalen. Writing plays, he captured a wide audience in England; his dialogue was marked with skill and ingenuity. The wearing of long hair and idiosyncratic dress, and other mannerisms, such as the carrying of flowers in his hand while he lectured, tagged Wilde as an eccentric. He was a homosexual, and was tried and found "guilty" of it, and spent two years in prison at hard labour on account of it. In what turned out to be a very celebrated case, Wilde brought an abortive legal action in 1895 against the Marquis of Queensberry (Queensberry had objected to Wilde's association with his son Lord Alfred Douglas) He was exiled to Paris, there to die a broken man. Wilde's most noteworthy piece of fiction is The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891); as a play write, he will be remembered for "The Importance Of Being Earnest" (1899) For you out there who interested in things legal, then read The Trials of Oscar Wilde, H. Montgomery Hyde of the Middle Temple, ed., with introduction (92 pp.) by Hyde and a foreword (8 pp.) by Sir Travers Humphreys; Ills.; (London: Wm. Hodge, 1948)
  • Woolf, Virginia (1882-1941)

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    -X-

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  • Zola, Emile (1840-1902)
    Zola, the son of an Italian engineer, is a French novelist. In his writings, Zola impeached the military authorities, and was sentenced to imprisonment (1898), but escaped for a year to England. He died in Paris, accidently suffocated by charcoal fumes." (Chambers.) The work for which Zola is primarily noted is his L'accuse which raised the public awareness of a famous court marshall case, the Dreyfus case, which was shot through with injustice.
    [A side note on Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) Born in the Alsace, Dreyfus was "the son of a rich Jewish manufacturer ..." Having been brought to Paris he enlisted in the officer corps. On account of malice, forgery and injustice (the charge was that he supplied the enemy with information); Dreyfus was court marshalled and found guilty and sentenced to spend time on the Îsle du Diable off the coast of French Guinea, in South America. This is an interesting start of the real life story; but, it goes from there to even more interesting developments as his family struggled to free Dreyfus. As the facts came out (one of the officers which had given false evidence committed suicide) France was plunged "into a chaos of militarism and anti-Semitism which provoked Zola to assail the government in his celebrated L'accuse. ... it was not until 1906, when anti-Semitism in France had died down that the verdict was reversed." Dreyfus went on to fight in World War I and received the Legion of Honour. (Chambers.)]
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    Peter Landry