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Lord David Cecil (Lord Edward Christian David Gascoyne Cecil) Biography

(1902–86), (Lord Edward Christian David Gascoyne Cecil), The Stricken Deer, The Young Melbourne

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British biographer and critic, the youngest son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, the fourth Marquess of Salisbury; he was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1924 he became a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and was Goldsmith's Professor of English Literature at Oxford from 1948 to 1970. His study of Cowper, The Stricken Deer (1929), gained him wide notice as a scholarly biographer. His subsequent biographical studies include The Young Melbourne (1939), Lord M.; Or the Later Life of Lord Melbourne (1954), Max: Sir Max Beerbohm (1964), and Visionary and Dreamer (1969), his treatment of Samuel Palmer and Edward Burne-Jones. Among the numerous works in which Cecil combined biographical elements with critical analysis are Early Victorian Novelists (1934), Two Quiet Lives (1948), which deals with Thomas Gray and Dorothy Osborne, and A Portrait of Jane Austen (1978). The eloquent descriptive impressionism of much of his writing is firmly in the tradition of nineteenth-century belles-lettres, a tendency which resulted in the disparagement of his work by F. R. Leavis and others associated with Scrutiny. A Portrait by His Friends (edited by Hannah Cranborne, 1990) is a collection of memoirs of Cecil.

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