Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

English novelist and political activist
Date of Birth: 25.05.1803
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Personal Challenges
  4. Literary Legacy

Biography of Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an English novelist and politician, known for writing 110 volumes of works during his lifetime. However, he has been largely forgotten in modern times, a combination of deserved and undeserved neglect. Bulwer-Lytton fell into a "gap" between the greats of his time.

Early Life and Career

Bulwer-Lytton was born into a family of privilege. His father, a military officer, rose to the rank of general. His mother, though from a less prominent background, was highly educated and well-read. From his father, Edward inherited a talent for boxing and a love for horse riding, while from his mother, he inherited a passion for literature and a thirst for continuous learning.

Bulwer-Lytton divided his time between politics and literature. He began writing at a young age, and in the 1830s and 1850s, he served as a member of the House of Commons, first representing the liberals and later the conservatives. In 1858, he became the Minister of the Colonies in Lord Derby's conservative cabinet. It was during his time in this position that two new British colonies, Queensland in Australia and British Columbia in Canada, were established under his leadership.

Personal Challenges

Bulwer-Lytton faced personal challenges in his life. His wife, Rosina Wheeler, who was also a writer, struggled with her own literary ambitions and resented her husband's constant business engagements. Their marriage ended in divorce after nine years, due to a combination of literary clashes, Rosina's dislike of her mother-in-law, and political differences.

However, more than two decades after their divorce, the ex-spouses clashed again, this time in the field of politics and over their shared children. Rosina caused a scandal at a pre-election meeting, and Edward publicly declared her insane, even managing to have her confined to a mental institution. Rosina's friends eventually released her, and Edward, accused of ungentlemanly behavior, stepped down from his position as Minister.

Literary Legacy

Bulwer-Lytton wrote around twenty novels, but only a few have survived in literature. His notable works include "Pelham," "The Last Days of Pompeii," "Kenelm Chillingly," and the science fiction novel "The Coming Race." Although he did not achieve poetic acclaim, he became one of the most prominent English playwrights of his time. His plays filled the repertoires of London theaters during his lifetime. However, in terms of literary weight and popularity, he was overshadowed by writers such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and William Makepeace Thackeray.

An unexpected sign of Bulwer-Lytton's success came with the publication of his last novel, "Kenelm Chillingly." Unfortunately, he did not live to witness this achievement. After completing the novel, he suddenly passed away.