Charles John Huffam Dickens was a male English novelist during the Victorian era whose poetic, comic and florid literature remains iconic up to date.
He was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, Hampshire by Elizabeth nee Barrow and John Dickens. His father was a Navy Pay Office clerk that educated Charles at William Gile’s School, Chatham.
His father was imprisoned Marshalsea Prison in 1824 following his debts while his family moved there as Dickens was left to work in Warren’s Shoe Blacking Factory.
He experienced child labor at the age of twelve to support his family but later learnt shorthand and worked as a court reporter at Doctor’s Commons while during his leisure time, he would read a lot of literature.
He started his own writing as a social activist against social ills evident in his lectures, writing and talks.
The 19th century author gained an international recognition due to his unique literary style of Gothic romance involving realism and fantasy that handled the social issues in the contemporary society.
Dickens died in 1870 at Gad’s Hill Place following a stroke and was buried as Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey contrary to his wishes (Hotten et al., 1870).
George Eliot is the pen-name used by Mary Anne Evans, a female English novelist during the Victorian era. Her male penname was meant to add seriousness to her work, avoid women stereotype and evade public scrutiny following her personal romantic relationship with a married man, George Henry Lewes.
She was born in 22 November, 1819 in Warwickshire as the third daughter of Robert Evans and Christiana Evans who were local farmers.
She gained private education but stopped schooling at nineteen, following her mother’s death in 1839 and moved to Coventry with her father from 1841 to 1849 where she continued reading books and learn Italian and German.
She moved to London and in 1850 and wrote for Westminster Review where she became an editor for two years.
She however caused a scandal due to her relationship with George Henry Lewes in 1851 that detached her from family and friends. She adopted the pseudo-name when she started writing in 1856 and in 1869 he started to write Middlemarch that made her more famous, although it upsets the modern feminists.
She remarried John Cross (20 years younger) in 1880 after Lewes death in 1878 and became ill after being married for seven months.
She died in her sleep on 22 December 1880 and was buried at Highgate Cemetery besides Lewes (Hardy, 2006).
Samuel Butler was born in Nottinghamshire, England in December 4, 1835 as the first-born male of Rev. Thomas Butler and Fanny Worsley. He had a background of clerics and therefore, that was his likely career but he defied his Anglican upbringing.
He schooled at Shrewsbury and later in St John’s, Cambridge in 1854-1858 where he achieved a First in Classics. He aspired to be an artist irrespective of his father’s wishes and he moved to New Zealand in 1959 where he wrote and published some of his work that made him renowned as an iconoclastic Victorian writer. His work involved analysis of Christian orthodoxy and evolution as well as historic criticism.
He moved back to London in 1864 to do farming as he wrote for Christchurch Press and learnt Darwin’s views on origin of species which he wrote in The Press, a New Zealand newspaper to compare biological and machine evolution.
After returning to England in 1864 he pursued his artistic dream by joining the Heatherley’s School of Art and later, the Royal Academy School 1869-1876.
In 1898, he translated among other works, the Iliad and in 1900, the Odyssey. The way of flesh disregards the hypocrisy eminent during the Victorian era with a utopian satire.
He passed on, June 18, 1902 at Clifford’s Inn due to pernicious anemia and intestinal catarrh. He was cremated at Woking and buried at St. Paul’s Church, Convent Garden in England (Raby, 1991).
Edward Morgan Foster
Edward Morgan Foster was a male English novelist born on 1 January 1879 at Dorser Square, London as a sole son to Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster and Alice Clara.
His real name as per registration was Henry Morgan Forster but confusion during baptism swapped Henry with Edward and often referred to as Morgan.
He started writing when he was six and joined the Tonbridge School and later, King’s college, Cambridge where he enjoyed intellectual freedom as a member of Apostles and left with a Bachelor of Arts in 1900.
His great aunt, Marianne Thornton left him money that gained him financial freedom to tour various parts of the continental Europe, including the Mediterranean which would later inspire his writing.
He printed some of his work in 1904, in the Independent Review and wrote for The Athenaeum, a London journal. He broadcasted for BBC Radio and a recognized person of British Humanist Association that earned him a Benson Medal in 1937. He was honored in 1946 as a fellow of King’s college and in 1953, a Companion of Honor and a member of Order of Merit in 1969.
He was a homosexual and had a romantic relationship with Bob Buckingham. They lived together as he experienced various strokes that would eventually cause his death on 7 June 1970 at the Coventry (Moffat, 2010).
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was female British novelist in the Victorian era. She involves details of social classes particularly the poor.
She was born on 29 September 1810 in Chelsea, London as the eighth born of William Stevenson and Elizabeth Holland.
She was the only surviving child and was left with her aunt Hannah Lamb in Knutsford, Cheshire following his mother’s death and his father’s financial hardships and illness.
She later moved to live with the Unitarian, William Turner who was a distant relative in New castle who influenced her religious values and charity. She met William Gaskell while in Manchester to pay a visit to Turner’s daughter and married him on 30th august, 1832.
In Manchester, the local Unitarian chapel where Gaskell ministered consisted of impoverished industrial workers and she initiated charity work and writing some literature on m the socio-economic issues facing the residents that caught immediate attention in the Victorian society. She was also inspired by her son’s death and as a result identified herself with the poor. In 1854, North and south was published and made her famous due to her distinct style of gothic stories.
She died on 12 November 1865 Holybourne, Hampshire following a heart attack and was buried in graveyard of Brookstreet chapel, Knutsford (Easson, 1979).
Thomas Hardy, a male English poet and novelist was born on 2 June 1840 at Bockhampton, England by Thomas Hardy Sr. and Jemima Hand.
He spent his childhood adventuring the countryside that made him to love nature.
He joined a local school at the age of eight and later studied classical literature, German, Latin, Greek, French and Italy.
When he was sixteen, he qualified as an architect from the mentorship of his father and went to London in 1862 where he worked on Church architecture. Here, he used his leisure time in the theatre, art galleries as well as opera and was inspired to write poetry. He published his first novel in 1871 that was unsuccessful but his other literature became popular.
He met Emma Lavina Gifford in 1870 and married in 1874. Following Emma’s death in 1912, Hardy remarried Florence Emily Dugdale in 1914.
His work has been influenced by naturalism movement in his writing that depicts Romantic, Realistic as well as Enlightenment elements like the supernatural. He also involved religion, sexual values and aspects of rural life in his work.
He passed on, 11 January 1928 at Dorchester due to pleurisy where his cremation took place and was later buried at Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey (Hardy, 2007).
George Meredith is a male English poet and novelist at the time of Victorian era, born 12 February, 1828 at Portsmouth, Hampshire.
He belonged to a working-class family and educated randomly at Moravian School, Germany and never acquired higher education.
He became an apprentice lawyer when he was seventeen but later abandoned it to engage in articles writing. He read for Chapman and Hall publishers and worked as a freelance journalist for London magazines and newspapers.
He married Mary Ellen Nicolls in 1849 when he was twenty one, separated in 1858 and remarried in 1864 to Marie Vulliamy and lived together in Surrey until Marie died from cancer in 1886.
George Meredith has been cited as being witty both in his romantic writing, content and language that has timely psychological view and gender parity. Additionally, he is viewed as a conversationalist and a good, comic story teller.
His work gained him financial independence e.g. The egoistic that became a hit for his condemning self-centeredness.
He died in Box Hill, Surrey on 18 May 1909 following his age as well as health complications that had crippled him for long (Forman, 1970).
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was a male English novelist born in 18 July 1811 in Calcutta, India by Richmond Thackeray and Ann Becher.
His mother left India after the death of her husband and moved back to London where Thackeray joined Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge but dropped in 1830 following his addiction to gambling where he lost his inheritance and left with no degree.
He studied law in 1831 to 1833 at Middle Temple, London and engaged in unsuccessful investment over the National Standard.
He studied art in Paris and engaged in journalism and worked for The Constitutional as a French correspondence. The publication of the newspaper halted and Thackeray returned to London in 1837 and wrote for various journals and newspapers such as The Times and Punch magazine.
He married Isabella Shawe, an Irish woman from a humble background and bore three girls who lived with Thackeray’s mother after she had a mental breakdown in 1840.
He started writing novels and Vanity Fair was published in 1847. In 1859 he worked as an editor for Cornhill Magazine. In his writing, he was fond of immoral characters that reflected the issues apparent in the Victorian society.
He died on 24 December 1863 due to stroke and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery (Benjamin, 1992).
Anthony Trollope was a male English novelist during the Victorian era, born 24 April 1815 at Bloomsbury, London by Thomas Anthony Trollope and her mother Frances Milton
. He had a miserable childhood due to his family‘s impoverishment that affected him when among his aristocratic classmates who bullied him due to his low social status. This made him to contemplate suicide when he was twelve.
He schooled at Harrow School and later in Winchester College which were elite public schools.
His family initially moved to America in 1827 and business failure returned them to Harrow and later forced to move to Belgium in 1834 due to debt. His father died in 1835 and his two siblings in 1836 leaving his mother to support the family through writing.
While he was nineteen, Trollope worked as a postal office clerk and in 1841, he worked as postal surveyor in Ireland, which earned him several tours and was able to fund his literature.
He married Rose Heseltine and had two sons.
He is said to be the greatest novelist of the 19th century. His work reflected the socio-political and gender issues in the society. His realistic approach to the Victorian culture is evident in his work as he remained sensitive to gender issues and other social ills.
He died on 6 December 1883 and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery of London (Trollope, 1947).
Benjamin, L. S. (1992). William Makepeace Thackeray: A Biography. London: Reprint Services Company.
Easson, A. (1979). Elizabeth Gaskell. London: Routledge.
Forman, M. B. (1970). George Meredith. New Delhi: Mittal Publications.
Hardy, B. N. (2006). George Eliot: A Critic’s Biography. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Hardy, F. E. (2007). Thomas Hardy. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited.
Hotten, J. C., Sala, G. A., & Stanley, A. P. (1870). Charles Dickens: The Story of His Life. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.
Moffat, W. (2010). E.M. Forster: A New Life. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Raby, P. (1991). Samuel Butler: A Biography. Iowa: University of Iowa Press.
Trollope, A. (1947). An Autobiography. Berkeley: University of California Press.