Category Archives: Authors

The Biography of Walter Scott (1771-1832) in 1909

The Biography of Walter Scott (1771-1832)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 1, 1909
Written by Mr Leslie Stephen

SCOTT, Snr WALTER (1771-1832), author of The Waverley Novels, son of Walter Scott by his wife Anne Rutherford, was born on 15 Aug. 1771 in a house in College Wynd at Edinburgh, since demolished.

The True History of several honourable Families of the Right Honourable Name of Scott (1688), by Walter Scott of Satchelis [q. v.], was a favourite of the later Walter from his earliest years. He learnt from it the history of many of the heroes of his writings. Among them were John Scott of Harden, called ‘the Lamiter,’ a younger son of a duke of Buccleuch in the fourteenth century; and John’s son, William the Bolt-foot,’ a famous border knight. A later Scott called ‘Amid War,’ the Harden of the ‘Lay of the Lost Minstrel,’ married Mary Scott, the ‘Flower of Yarrow,’ in 1607, and was the hero of many legends [see Scott, Walter, 1660 P-1629 P]. His son, William Scott of Harlech, was made prisoner by Gideon Marray of Elibank, and preferred a marriage with Murray’s ugliest daughter to the gallows. William’s third son, Walter, laird of Raeburn, became a quaker, and suffered persecutions described in a note to the Heart of Midlothian. Raeburn’s second Son also Walter, became a Jacobite, and was known as ‘Beardie,’ because he gave up shaving in token of mourning for the Stuarts. He died in 1729. ‘Beardie’ and his son Robert are described in the introductory ‘Epistles’ to ‘Matmion.’ Robert quarrelled with his father, became a whig, and set up as a farmer at Sandy Knowe.

He was a Keen sportsman and a general referee in all matters of dispute in the neighbourhood. In 1728 he married Barbara, daughter of Thomas Haliburton of New Mains, by whom he had a numerous family. One of them, Thomas, died, in his ninetieth year. Another, Robert, was in the navy, and, after, died at Rosebank, near Kelso. Walter Scott, the eldest son of Robert of family Knowe, born 1729, was the first of the family to adopt a town life. He acquired a fur practice a writer to the signet. Huxnn Autobiographical that he delighted in the antiquarian part of his profession, but had too much simplicity to make money, and often rather lost than profited by his zeal for his clients. He was a strict Calvinist; his favourite study was church history; and he was rather formal in manners and staunch to old Scottish prejudices. He is the original of the elder Fairford in ‘Redgauntlet’

In April 1788 he married Anne, eldest daughter of John Rutherford, professor of medicine in the university of Edinburgh [q. v.]  Her mother was a daughter of Sir John Swinton [q. v.], a descendant of many famous warriors, and through her her son traced a descent from Sir William Alexander, earl of Stirling, the friend of Ben Jonson. Mrs. Scott was short, and ‘by no means comely. She was well educated for the time, though with old-fashioned stiffness; was fond of poetry, and was of light and happy temper of mine. Though devout, she was less austere than her husband. Her son Walter had no likeness, it is said, to her or to his father; but strongly resembled his great-grandfather Beardie, and especially his grandfather Robert.

The Biography of Francis Bacon (1561-1628) in 1909

The Biography of Francis Bacon (1561-1628)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 1, 1909
Written by Dr. S Rawson Gardiner & Rev. Dr. Fowler

Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon

BACON, FRANCIS (1561-1628), lord chancellor, born at York House on 29 Jan. 1561, was the son of Lord Keeper Bacon, by his second wife, Ann, second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, and sister of the wife of Sir William Cecil, better known by his later title as Lord Treasurer Burghley. In April 1573, at the age of twelve years and three months, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, leaving it in March 1576. On 27 June 1576 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn.

Bacon was thus destined to the profession of the law. Few youths of his age, however, are content to look forward to a life of merely professional success; and in Bacon’s case, partly by reason of his own mental qualities, and partly by reason of the influence of the exciting events of the great national straggle in the heart of which he lived, the visions of youth were peculiarly far-reaching. The boy already longed not merely to do something for the defence of protestantism against its enemies, and something for the improvement of the government of his native country, both which thoughts were likely to arise in the mind of Elizabeth’s ‘ young lord keeper,’ as she playfully called him, but also to achieve which was peculiarly his own, to create s new system of philosophy to replace that of Aristotle, not merely for the satisfaction of the cravings of his own speculative reason, but for the practical benefit of humanity at large.

In 1578 young Bacon was attached to the embassy of Sir Amias Paulet to France. He was still abroad when, on 20 Feb. 1679, his father died, leaving him with but a small fortune. On his return to England, which followed soon after he received the bad news, be devoted himself to the study of the law, though he was not without nope of more suitable work. In 1680, at least, he was looking to his uncle, Lord Burghley, to support suit for some kind of preferment, the exact nature of which is unknown. As, however, he did not receive a favourable answer, he continued his legal studies, and on 27 June 1682 was admitted utter barrister.

Bacon’s rise in life was brought about by bis election to the parliament which met on 23 Nov. 1584, in which, no doubt through Burghley’s interest, he sat for the borough of Melcombe Regis. The time was one m which the greatest questions were at issue. The danger arising from the activity of of Mary Stuart was coming to a bead, and at the same time, though the queen and the House of Commons were completely atone in their desire to establish the national independence by keeping the catholics in ebea, there was a envision of opinion between them on the form of religion to be maintained in the country, the commons wishing to see the established religion modified in the direction of Calvinistic puritanism, and the queen wishing to preserve the worship of the Prayer-book intact.

The Biography of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in 1909

The Biography of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from
The Dictionary of National Biography Volume 17
published in 1909 by written by Mr Sidney Lee

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM (1564-1616), dramatist and poet, came of a family whose surname was borne through the middle ages by residents in very many parts of England at Penrith in Cumberland, at Kirkland and Doncaster in Yorkshire, as well as in nearly all the midland counties. The surname had originally a martial significance, implying capacity in the wielding of the spear (Camden, Remains, ed. 1605, p. Ill; Restitution, 1605). Its first recorded holder is John Shakespeare, who in 1279 was living at ‘Freyndon,’ perhaps Frittenden, Kent (Cor. 7 Edw. I, Kane.; cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xL 122). The great mediaeval guild of St. Anne at Knowle, whose members included the leading inhabitants of Warwickshire, was joined by many Shakespeares in the fifteenth century (cf. Reg. ed Bickley, 1894). In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the surname is found far more frequently in Warwickshire than elsewhere. The archives of no less than twenty-four towns and villages there contain notices of Shakespeare families in the sixteenth century, and as many as thirty-four Warwickshire towns or villages were inhabited by Shakespeare families in the seventeenth century. Among them all William a common christian name.

At Rowington, twelve miles to the north of Stratford, and in the same hundred of Barliehway, one of the most prolific Shakespeare families of Warwickshire raided in the sixteenth century, and no less than three Richard Shakespeares of Rowington, whose extant wills were proved respectively in 1660,1591, and 1614, were fathers of sons called William. At least one other William Shakespeare was during the period a resident in Rowington. As a consequence, the poet has been mote than once credited with achievements which rightly belong to one or other of his numerous contemporaries who were identically named.

Certain Delightful English Towns

Certain Delightful English Towns by William Dean Howells.  Published in 1911.

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I have chosen this book because it was published one hundred years ago in 1911;  it is about England, and it is England seen through the eyes of an American visitor.

From the Authors Biographical: The sketches began to be written at London in the spring of 1904, as the first of them, frankly confesses, in a lodging of Eton Terrace, hard by Pimlico, and continued, at such moments as I could find for them, at diverse points in England, throughout the summer and in the winter of 1904-05 in Italy. I remember distinctly working on them in Great Malvern, where we had a fortnight; and in Aberystwyth, where we had a week; and in Llandudno, where we had two. But the greater part of London Films and some part of Certain Delightful English Towns were my eager occupation in the Villa Lamberti at San Remo. There I had a whole dining-table for my desk, and with a little stove at my back I could turn and warm my fingers on its porcelain top when the climate failed to keep its reputation for geniality. When the fire in the stove profited by my preoccupation to go out, I could follow it in my own sort, and in a brisk tramp up to the Berigo Road could keep an uninterrupted illusion of my English summer.