BULWER-LYTTON, Edward George Earle

Born: May 25, 1803, in London, England

Died: January 18, 1873, in Torquay, Devonshire, England

Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, also known as the first Baron Lytton of Knebworth, was a British politician, poet and novelist. He is best known for his historical novels. He was able to anticipate the public's changing taste in novels and to change his style to match the demand.

Bulwer-Lytton was the youngest son of General William Earle Bulwer and Elizabeth Barbara Lytton. Their names were hyphenated when the general inherited Knebworth in 1843. The general died when Bulwer-Lytton was just a child and the family moved to an estate in Norfolk.

Bulwer-Lytton was privately tutored and prepared for Trinity College, University of Cambridge. He won the Chancellor's medal for Sculpture, a poem, in 1825. He obtained a bachelor of arts and a master of arts degree, graduating in 1826. He was granted honorary degrees from Cambridge and Oxford after he became famous.

After graduation, he traveled Paris and Versailles with a 1000 allowance from his mother. When he returned to London, he established himself as a colorful character. In 1827, he married Rosina Doyle Wheeler, against his mother's wishes who consequently cut him off financially. Bulwer-Lytton became a writer to support himself, working for various magazines, including Quarterly Review and Books of Beauty. Published in 1828, Bulwer-Lytton's first novel, Pelham was a success. His extravagant lifestyle meant he had to write in large quantities, publishing one or two novels a year in addition to his work with the papers.

Bulwer-Lytton experimented with theater and verse, but was most successful as a novelist. Starting with light romances, he eventually changed genres and began writing historical romances filled with detail, such as The Last Days of Pompeii, which was published in 1834.

He achieved a popular success, but was ridiculed by other writers. In addition, his creative productivity caused him to be an inattentive husband. After his wife left him in 1836, she wrote a book that painted an ugly picture of Bulwer- Lytton, called Cheveley in 1839. Their two children spent most of their time with Bulwer- Lytton.

His political career began in 1831, when he entered Parliament as the member for Lincoln. In 1838 he was made a baronet and five years later inherited his mother's estate. He retired in 1841, protesting the repeal of the corn laws. His opinions, in combination with a friendship with a Tory supporter, caused him to change political parties. He returned to the House in 1852 as a Tory member of Hetfordshire. He was made a nobleman in 1866.