Home  »  Volume XIV: English THE VICTORIAN AGE Part Two The Nineteenth Century, III  »  § 50. Biographers and Memoir-Writers; Lockhart

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 50. Biographers and Memoir-Writers; Lockhart

Biography, like portrait-painting, has always flourished in England—whether because of the love of the concrete which marks our race, or because of the individualism of character as well as of intellect to which our insularity and our freedom have been alike propitious. But, although the number of English biographies is legion, and many of them have not floated away into oblivion with the outward facts of the lives recorded in them, few have secured for themselves a permanent place in our literature. To some of these, already mentioned under the names of their authors or of the great writers of whom they treated, we do not propose to return in the present chapter; passing by even such a masterpiece of English biography as the Life of Sir Walter Scott by his son-in-law, John Gibson Lock-hart. The subject of this delightful biography is, indeed, itself incomparable; for which of our great English men of letters is Scott’s equal in blended humanity and serenity—except Shakespeare, of whose life we know next to nothing?