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The Study Of Literature
English Literature Of The 19th Century:
 Third Or Later Victorian Period

 William Ewart Gladstone

 John Morley

 Historical Literature Of The Later Victorian Period

 Edward Augustus Freeman

 James Anthony Froude

 Sir Henry Sumner Maine

 William Edward Hartpole Lecky

 James Bryce

 John Addington Symonds

 Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century

Edward Augustus Freeman

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Although blessed with an ample fortune, Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-1892) wrote diligently as for daily bread, not merely the great histories which bring him solid fame, but monographs and articles for reviews, magazines and newspapers, on almost all manner of subjects. Yet through them all one spirit is easily traced. "History," said he, "is past politics ; politics is present history." These two subjects, which he pronounced one and the same, dominate nearly all his writings. He was born at Harbourne, in Staffordshire, in 1823, and was educated at Trinity College, Oxford. His earliest writing was on architecture, treating of church restoration and the cathedrals of England. The general interest in the Crimean War first drew him into his larger field, leading him to prepare a "History of the Saracens." When the American Civil War was raging he began a "History of Federal Government from the Achaean League to the Disruption of the American Republic." But the work was suspended when only one volume was completed. The title of this work shows his too great confidence in his own judgment as to results, yet he was passionately fond of truth, and spent much time not only in ascertaining facts for his own works, but in controverting the incorrect statements of others. The architectural studies which led to the detection of some of these errors, probably gave him a bent in this direction, and his writing for the "Saturday Review" helped it. His greatest work is the "History of the Norman Conquest" (6 vols., 1867-76), written in a graphic style and abounding in evidence of careful research. In fact, the research and consequent discussion are too fully displayed, often occupying in notes and appendixes more than the rest of each volume. In this work the attention is confined to public men and leading events, to William and Harold, and the battles between them; the actual condition of the people, Saxon and Nor-man, is not regarded. But the characters are carefully portrayed and the story is told with animation. As part of his passion for accuracy he insisted on spelling Anglo-Saxon names in the old style, while he Anglicized the French names in a queer fashion. A "Short History of the Norman Conquest" (188o) was afterward prepared, and the larger one was extended in the "Reign of William Rufus" (1882). Meantime, from the numerous contributions to reviews were collected "Historical Essays" (3 series, 1875-80). Several of his works treated of the Turks and their government, to which he was bitterly op-posed. Others related to the growth of the British constitution, and to various forms of government. In 1881 Freeman visited America, lecturing in the principal cities; these lectures on the development of the English race were published, as were also his "Impressions of the United States" (1883). His latest great work was a "History of Sicily" (3 vols., 1888-92), which was left incomplete. Freeman died at Alicante, in Spain, in March, 1892.

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