English novelist and poet. His realistic psychological novel The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) engendered both scandal and critical praise. His best-known novel, The Egoist (1879), is superbly plotted and dissects the hero's self-centredness with merciless glee. The sonnet sequence Modern Love (1862) reflects the failure of his own marriage to the daughter of Thomas Love Peacock. Other novels include Evan Harrington (1861), Diana of the Crossways (1885), and The Amazing Marriage (1895). His verse also includes Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth (1883).
Although Meredith's writings have never been generally popular, his genius was immediately recognized by discerning critics. His style is characterized by great fastidiousness in the choice of words, phrases, and condensation of thought; few other writers have attempted to charge sentences, and even words, so heavily with meaning.
Meredith was born in Portsmouth and was educated there and in Neuwied, Germany. He was articled to a lawyer in London, but soon exchanged the law for journalism, and at 21 was writing poetry for magazines. His first printed work, a poem on the battle of Chillianwallah, appeared in Chambers' Journal (1849). Two years later he published Poems, containing ‘Love in the Valley’. In 1866 he was war correspondent in Italy for the Morning Post; he also acted for many years as literary adviser to a publisher. By this time he had produced several novels, including The Shaving of Shagpat: an Arabian Entertainment (1856), Farina (1857), Emilia in England (1864) (subsequently renamed Sandra Belloni), Vittoria (1866), and Rhoda Fleming (1865). In poetry he had produced Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside (1862).
These were followed by The Adventures of Harry Richmond (1871), the political novel Beauchamp's Career (1875), and The Egoist. The Tragic Comedians appeared in 1880. Diana of the Crossways was the first of Meredith's novels to attain anything approaching general popularity. The same period yielded Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth, Ballads and Poems of Tragic Life (1887), and A Reading of Earth (1888). His later novels, One of our Conquerors (1891), Lord Ormont and his Aminta (1894), and The Amazing Marriage, exhibit the tortuous and difficult style which denied general popularity to all his works, and added little to his reputation.
Selected Poetry of George Meredith (1828–1909)
Related Credo Articles
The son of a tailor who managed all his life to separate himself from trade (though he used his autobiographical beginnings...
Born at Portsmouth, the son of a tailor and naval outfitter; his grandfather, Melchizedeck, had had the same business and is the...
The son of a naval outfitter in Portsmouth, he received part of his education in Germany at the Moravian School at Neuwied. He...