A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Freeman, Edward Augustus

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Freeman, Edward Augustus (1823-1892). -- Historian, s. of John F., was b. at Harborne, Staffordshire. He lost both his parents in childhood, and was brought up by his paternal grandmother.page 147 He was ed. at private schools, and as a private pupil of the Rev. R. Gutch, whose dau. he afterwards m. In 1841 he was elected to a scholarship at Oxf. He had inherited an income sufficient to make him independent of a profession, and a prepossession in favour of the celibacy of the clergy disinclined him to enter the Church, of which he had at one time thought. He settled ultimately at Somerleaze, near Wells, where he occupied himself in study, writing for periodicals, and with the duties of a magistrate. He was a strong Liberal, and on one occasion stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for Parliament. He was also twice unsuccessful as an applicant for professional chairs, but ultimately, in 1884, succeeded Stubbs as Prof. of Modern History at Oxf. He had always been an enthusiastic traveller, and it was when on a tour in Spain that he took ill and d. on May 16, 1892. F. was a voluminous author, and a keen controversialist. His first book was a History of Architecture (1849), and among the very numerous publications which he issued the most important were History of Federal Government (1863), The History of the Norman Conquest (6 vols., 1867-79), The Historical Geography of Europe (1881-2), The Reign of William Rufus (1882), and an unfinished History of Sicily. Besides these he wrote innumerable articles in periodicals, many of which were separately pub. and contain much of his best work. He was laborious and honest, but the controversial cast of his mind sometimes coloured his work. His short books, such as his William I., and his General Sketch of European History, are marvels of condensation, and show him at his best. His knowledge of history was singularly wide, and he sometimes showed a great power of vivid presentation.