1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hill, George Birkbeck Norman

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HILL, GEORGE BIRKBECK NORMAN (1835–1903), English author, son of Arthur Hill, head master of Bruce Castle school, was born at Tottenham, Middlesex, on the 7th of June 1835. Arthur Hill, with his brothers Rowland Hill, the postal reformer, and Matthew Davenport Hill, afterwards recorder of Birmingham, had worked out a system of education which was to exclude compulsion of any kind. The school at Bruce Castle, of which Arthur Hill was head master, was founded to carry into execution their theories, known as the Hazelwood system. George Birkbeck Hill was educated in his father’s school and at Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1858 he began to teach at Bruce Castle school, and from 1868 to 1877 was head master. In 1869 he became a regular contributor to the Saturday Review, with which he remained in connexion until 1884. On his retirement from teaching he devoted himself to the study of English 18th-century literature, and established his reputation as the most learned commentator on the works of Samuel Johnson. He settled at Oxford in 1887, but from 1891 onwards his winters were usually spent abroad. He died at Hampstead, London, on the 27th of February 1903. His works include: Dr Johnson, his Friends and his Critics (1878); an edition of Boswell’s Correspondence (1879); a laborious edition of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, including Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, and Johnson’s Diary of a Journey into North Wales (Clarendon Press, 6 vols., 1887); Wit and Wisdom of Samuel Johnson (1888); Select Essays of Dr Johnson (1889); Footsteps of Dr Johnson in Scotland (1890); Letters of Johnson (1892); Johnsonian Miscellanies (2 vols., 1897); an edition (1900) of Edward Gibbon’s Autobiography; Johnson’s Lives of the Poets (3 vols., 1905), and other works on the 18th-century topics. Dr Birkbeck Hill’s elaborate edition of Boswell’s Life is a monumental work, invaluable to the student.

See a memoir by his nephew, Harold Spencer Scott, in the edition of the Lives of the English Poets (1905), and the Letters edited by his daughter, Lucy Crump, in 1903.

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