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George Meredith (Portsmouth (England), February 12, 1828 – Box Hill (England), May 18, 1909) was an English novelist and poet during the Victorian era.
Meredith was born in Portsmouth, in the bosom of a wealthy family in Hampshire. His mother died when he was five years old. At age 14, he was sent to study at the Institut der Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine in Neuwied (Germany), where he remained for two years. Subsequently, he taught law and worked as a solicitor. However, he left the profession to devote himself to journalism and poetry shortly after marrying Mary Ellen Nicolls, who was 9 years older than him.
In 1851, he published Poems, his first book, in which he collected the poems he had previously published in magazines. In 1858, his wife left him for the painter Henry Wallis, but she died three years later. This experience inspired him to write a collection of sonnets titled Modern Love (1862) and his first novel The Ordeal of Richard Feverel.
In 1864, he married Marie Vulliamy and moved to Surrey. Meredith continued writing novels and poems, generally inspired by nature. Meredith is known for the use of comedy in his works, including the book Essay on Comedy (1877) and the novel The Egoist (1879). Many of his works criticized the submission of women during the Victorian era.
To supplement her writer’s salary, Meredith also worked at Chapman & amp; Hall; this allowed him to meet and make friends with numerous literary personalities of the time such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Leslie Stephen, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Gissing and James Matthew Barrie.
Meredith’s works mock the manners of gentlemen, icons of British society, but also denounces the hypocrisy of manners and masculine attitudes, snobbery, pedantry, redichism, ignorance. Using the comic, Meredith strips naked of hypocrisy the flaws of human appearances in the Victorian era, its false virtues and the whole bale of appearances that characterizes it. Oscar Wilde, in his essay The Decay of Lies, declares that Meredith is, with Honoré de Balzac, his favorite novelist: “That could define this style … a chaos illuminated by lightning.” Among his most notable works include The Ordeal by Ricardo Feverel, Diana at the Crossroads, The Selfish, The Race of Beauchamp, Rhoda Fleming, The Tragic Comedians, The Amazing Marriage, and so on. He received numerous awards for his work. He succeeded Alfred Tennyson as president of the Society of Authors. In 1905, he was decorated by Edward VII with the Order of Merit of the United Kingdom
Meredith died in 1909 at her home in Box Hill.
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