Strachey, Lytton Eminent Victorians

ISBN 13: 9781511758086

Eminent Victorians

 
9781511758086: Eminent Victorians

Eminent Victorians is a book by Lytton Strachey (one of the older members of the Bloomsbury Group), first published in 1918 and consisting of biographies of four leading figures from the Victorian era. Its fame rests on the irreverence and wit Strachey brought to bear on three men and a woman who had till then been regarded as heroes and heroine. They were: Cardinal Manning Florence Nightingale Thomas Arnold General Gordon Strachey developed the idea for Eminent Victorians in 1912, when he was living on occasional journalism and writing dilettante plays and verse for his Bloomsbury friends. He went to live in the country at East Ilsley and started work on a book then called Victorian Silhouettes containing miniature biographies of a dozen notable Victorian personalities. In November 1912 he wrote to Virginia Woolf that their Victorian predecessors "seem to me a set of mouth bungled hypocrites". After his research into the life of Cardinal Manning, he realized he would have difficulty managing twelve lives. In the following year he moved to Wiltshire where he stayed until 1915, by which time he had completed half the book. By then it was wartime, and Strachey's anti-war and anti-conscription activities were taking up his time. He changed his views and concluded that the Victorian worthies had not just been hypocrites, but that they had bequeathed to his generation the "profoundly evil" system "by which it is sought to settle international disputes by force". By 1917, the work was ready for publication and Strachey was put in touch with Geoffrey Whitworth at Chatto. The critic Frank Swinnerton was taken with the work and it was published on 9 May 1918 with almost uniformly enthusiastic reviews.

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About the Author:

founding member of the Bloomsbury Group and author of Eminent Victorians, he is best known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. His biography Queen Victoria (1921) was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

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