A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Lewes, George Henry

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Lewes, George Henry (1817-1878). -- Philosopher and miscellaneous writer, b. in London, and ed. at Greenwich, and inpage 237 Jersey and Brittany. His early life was varied; he tried law, commerce, and medicine successively, and was then for two years in Germany, on returning from which he tried the London stage, and eventually settled down to journalism, writing for the Morning Chronicle, for the Penny Encyclopædia, and various periodicals. Thereafter he ed. the Leader (1851-54), and the Fortnightly Review (which he founded) (1865-66). His articles deal with an extraordinary variety of subjects -- criticism, the drama, biography, and science, both physical and mental. His chief works are The History of Philosophy from Thales to Comte, Comte's Philosophy of the Sciences (1853), The Psychology of Common Life (1859), Studies in Animal Life (1862), Problems of Life and Mind (1873-79). L. was an exceptionally able dramatic critic, and in this department he produced Actors and the Art of Acting (1875), and a book on the Spanish Drama. By far his greatest work, however, is his Life and Works of Goethe (1855), which remains the standard English work on the subject, and which by the end of the century had, in its German translation, passed into 16 ed. He also wrote two novels, Ranthorpe (1847), and Rose, Blanche, and Violet (1848), neither of which attained any success. In his writings he is frequently brilliant and original; but his education and training, whether in philosophy or biology, were not sufficiently thorough to give him a place as a master in either. L.'s life was in its latter section influenced by his irregular connection with Miss Evans ("George Eliot"), with whom he lived for the last 24 years of it, in close intellectual sympathy. To his appreciation and encouragement were largely due her taking up prose fiction.