A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Lewis, Matthew Gregory

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Lewis, Matthew Gregory (1775-1818). -- Novelist, s. of Matthew L., Deputy Sec. in the War Office, was ed. at Westminster and Oxf. Thereafter he went to Germany. From his childhood tales of witchcraft and the supernatural had a powerful fascination for him, and in Germany he had ample opportunities for pursuing his favourite study, with the result that at the age of 20 he became the author of The Monk, a tale in which the supernatural and thepage 238 horrible predominate to an unprecedented extent, and from which he is known as "Monk L." The same characteristic appears in all his works, among which may be mentioned Tales of Terror (1779), Tales of Wonder (to which Sir W. Scott contributed), and Romantic Tales (1808). Though affected and extravagant in his manners, L. was not wanting in kindly and generous feelings, and in fact an illness contracted on a voyage to the West Indies to inquire into and remedy some grievances of the slaves on his estates there was the cause of his death.