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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
ENGLISH MEN OF LETTERS
CHOSEN AND EDITED
CHARLES TOWNSEND COPELAND
FRANK WILSON CHENEY HERSEY
INSTRUCTOR IN ENGLISH IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY
HANYADE ALEGE VORARY
JUNE 13, 1938
Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1909. Reprinted
Norwood, Mass., U.8.A.
This collection of biographies and autobiographies of English men of letters has been prepared to serve various purposes.
It is primarily designed to illustrate the varieties of biographical writing. To this end, it includes: first, extracts from notable autobiographies, among which are those of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Colley Cibber, Gibbon, and Ruskin; second, examples of the method and style of such famous biographers as Izaak Walton, Dr. Johnson, Boswell, Lockhart, Southey, Macaulay, and Carlyle; and third, many complete Lives from the Dictionary of National Biography which represent the work of the most accomplished of modern literary historians.
In the first group, the selections of autobiography exemplify both formal and informal records of life and character. Here may be studied such types as the diary, the letter, the reminiscence, and the memoir. The attention of students should be called to the diversity of mood and style inherent in these types, and due to the moment of writing and the author's mental attitude. For the study of these differences, Pepys's Diary, Swift's Journal to Stella, Carlyle's Reminiscences, and Gibbon's Memoirs offer excellent material. Furthermore, the manner and degree of selfrevelation are to be considered. The comparison of Lord Herbert's vainglorious account of his prowess, or of Colley Cibber's naïve avowal of vanity, with Ruskin's reverent narrative of his great awakening in Italy should prove highly interesting.
When we turn to the second group, the examples of the work of famous biographers, we meet new phases of the art of recording men's lives. Now, the shrewdness with which the author has understood his hero, the justness with which he has interpreted his character, the skill and spirit with which he has portrayed his actions, become matters of fundamental importance. Here, too,