Lytton Strachey (Giles Lytton Strachey) Biography
(1880–1932), (Giles Lytton Strachey), Prolusiones Academicae, Euphrosyne, Spectator, Spectatorial Essays, Landmarks in French Literature, Eminent Victorians
British biographer, essayist, and critic, born in London, educated at Leamington College, Liverpool University, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected to the Apostles and established lasting friendships with J. M. Keynes, E. M. Forster, and others with whom he was later identified as a member of the Bloomsbury Group. His first publications were the volumes of poetry Prolusiones Academicae (1902) and Euphrosyne (1905). His early work as a literary journalist for the Spectator and other periodicals is represented by Spectatorial Essays (1964). In Landmarks in French Literature (1912) he drew the attention of a wider British readership to the writings of Racine. The wittily iconoclastic portraits of Dr Thomas Arnold, Florence Nightingale, General Gordon, and Cardinal Manning in Eminent Victorians (1918) made him well known and had a marked influence on the subsequent course of biography. His other principal works as a biographer are Queen Victoria (1921), which displays an ironically poised sympathy for its subject, and Elizabeth and Essex (1928), a vivid and melodramatic treatment in which a Freudian analytical tendency is clearly discernible. Strachey also wrote many biographical essays which are collected in Portraits in Miniature (1931) and Characters and Commentaries (1933). The vitality and precision of his style and his ability to deal with ethical and psychological complexities while maintaining a brisk narrative pace have gained his work lasting recognition. Michael Holroyd, author of Lytton Strachey (2 volumes, 1967, 1968) and Lytton Strachey: The New Biography (1994), edited Lytton Strachey by Himself (1971), a collection of autobiographical fragments.