Stephen, Leslie, 1832-1904

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1832-11-28
Death 1904-02-22
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

English critic and philosopher.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (24) : London, etc., to W.E. Henley, 1876-1881. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270580328

From the description of English thought in the eighteenth century : autograph manuscript, [187-]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270580765

Stephen was a British critic, man of letters and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the description of Photograph album of Leslie Stephen, 1856-1894. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 52633038

Sir Leslie Stephen, the father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, was an English literary editor, literary critic, essayist, and biographer.

From the description of Sir Leslie Stephen collection of papers, [1859]-1939. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122686847

From the guide to the Sir Leslie Stephen collection of papers, 1859]-1939, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Epithet: K.C.B.; author

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000613.0x000362

Sir Leslie Stephen was an English author, editor, critic, and man of letters, known for his years as editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. Born in London to an aristocratic family, he was educated at Cambridge, where he became an Anglican clergyman; he then became a journalist and editor of Cornhill Magazine, while contributing articles to numerous periodicals and publishing several books. In 1882, he became the first editor of the landmark Dictionary of National Biography, and his influence on the project was enormous. An ardent mountain climber, he was also the father of novelist Virginia Woolf and artist Vanessa Bell.

From the description of Leslie Stephen letters, 1874-1894. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 71790610

English critic, philosopher and biographer.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : London, to John W. Field and to Mrs. Field, 1886 Nov. 28-1886 Dec. 27. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270580283

From the description of Autograph letters signed (30, one with signature cut out) : London, to W.A. Knight, 1880 Mar. 8-1896 Mar. 17. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270129833

British author, philosopher, and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the description of Papers, 1861-1966 and n.d. (bulk 1861-1900). (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 122509853

From the guide to the Sir Leslie Stephen Papers, 1861-1959 (bulk 1866-1891), (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University)

English biographer, literary critic, and editor of the Dictionary of National Biography from 1882-1891.

From the description of Letters, 1885-1887. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 35310227

British author, philosopher, and first editor of the Dictionary of national biography.

From the description of Sir Leslie Stephen Papers, 1861-1959; (bulk 1866-1891). (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 20188609

English man of letters.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to "Anny" Thackeray [Anne Isabella Ritchie], 1874 Jan. 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270854538

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : Brighton and London, to Anne [Thackeray] Ritchie, 1887 Jan. 15 and Mar. 31. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270854534

Biographer, author and father of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

From the description of Drawing book, 1841 November 3. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 29853214

Biographer, author, compiler of the Dictionary of National Biography, and father of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

From the description of Letter from Leslie Stephen to an unidentified female recipient, 1875 April 7. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 745471315

From the description of Letter, 1885 May 7. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 47866128

From the description of Letter, 1887 July 3. (Washington State University). WorldCat record id: 29853262

English author, literary critic and the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to an unidentified recipient, 1878 May 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 770705227

Son of Jane Catherine Venn and Sir James Stephen. He was born November 28, 1832, in London, and he died February 22, 1904, in London.

English critic, man of letters, and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.

A member of a distinguished intellectual family, Stephen was educated at Eton, at King's College, London and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he was elected to a fellowship in 1854 and became junior tutor in 1856. He was ordained in 1859, but his philosophical studies, combined probably with the controversy that followed the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859), caused him to loose his faith; in 1862 he resigned his tutorship and two years later left Cambridge to live in London.

Through his brother, James Fitzjames Stephen, a contributor to the Saturday Review, Stephen gained entry to the literary world, contributing to many periodicals. In 1871 George Smith offered him the editorship of The Cornhill Magazine, for which he wrote literary criticism later republished in the three series of Hours in a Library (1874-1879). Stephen was one of the first serious critics of the novel, and his works still deserves considerations by the historians of literary criticism. Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edmund Gosse, and Henry James were among those whom Stephen, as an editor, encouraged. After eleven years he resigned from the editorship of Cornhill, but he continued to write for periodicals.

His greatest learned work was his History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century (1876). His philosophical study The English Utilitarians (1900) was somewhat less successful, though it is still a useful source. His philosophical contribution to the rationalist tradition, Science of Ethics (1882), attempted to wed evolutionary theory to ethics. Stephen's most enduring legacy, however, is the Dictionary of National Biography, which he edited from 1882 to 1891. He edited the first 26 volumes and contributed 378 biographies to that important reference work. In recognition of this service to letters he was created Knight Commander of the Bath in 1902 and received other honours. Stephen's English Literature and Society in the Eighteen Century (1904) was a pioneer work in the sociological study of literature.

Stephen was shy and given to silence, the more so after the death in 1875 of his first wife, Harriet Marian, the second daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. In 1878 he married Julia Jackson, the widow of Herbert Duckworth, and among their four children were painter Vanessa Bell and the novelist Virginia Woolf. Noel G. Annan's Leslie Stephen: His Thought and Character in Relation to His Time (1952; reprinted, Walter P. Metzger, ed., 1977) is a notable study. Sir Leslie Stephen's Mausoleum Book (1978), edited by Alan Bell, is an autobiography written after the death of Stephen's wife Julia in 1895.

From "Stephen, Sir Leslie." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2003.

Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 May, 2003

From the guide to the Leslie Stephen Photograph Album MS 5., 1856-1894, (Mortimer Rare Book Room)

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Subjects:

  • Authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Authors, British
  • Photography--Great Britian--19th century
  • Authors--Biography--Sources
  • English literature--19th century
  • Voyages and travels
  • Photography--19th century
  • English literature--Study and teaching
  • Authors, English
  • President Of United States
  • Male authors, English--Correspondence

Occupations:

  • Artists

Places:

  • Waterloo, Belgium (as recorded)
  • Taunton, Somerset (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • New Forest, Hampshire (as recorded)
  • Switzerland (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Seend, Wiltshire (as recorded)
  • Lammas, Norfolk (as recorded)
  • Switzerland (as recorded)
  • St Petersburg, Russia (as recorded)