A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Stephen, Sir Leslie

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Stephen, Sir Leslie (1832-1904). -- Biographer and critic, s. of the above, was b. in London, and ed. at Eton, King's Coll., London, and Camb., where he obtained a tutorial Fellowship, and took orders. He came under the influence of Mill, Darwin, and H. Spencer, and devoted himself largely to the study of economics. His religious views having undergone a change, he gave up the clerical character and his Fellowship, and became a pronounced Agnostic. In 1865 he definitely adopted a literary career, and contributed to the Saturday Review, Fraser's Magazine, and other periodicals. In 1873 he pub. a collection of his essays as Free Thinking and Plain Speaking, which he followed up with An Agnostic's Apologypage 359 (1893). He became ed. in 1871 of the Cornhill Magazine, in which appeared the essays afterwards coll. as Hours in a Library (3 series, 1874-79). His chief work was The History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century (1876-81). He also wrote Science of Ethics (1882), and biographies of Dr. Johnson (1878), Pope (1880). Swift (1882), and George Eliot (English Men of Letters Series). In 1882 he became ed. of the Dictionary of National Biography, to which he devoted much labour, besides contributing many of the principal articles. The English Utilitarians appeared in 1900. As a biographical and critical writer he holds a very high place. His first wife was a dau. of Thackeray. In recognition of his literary eminence he was made a K.C.B.

Life and Letters by F.W. Maitland (1906).