After having surveyed the immense field presented in such a volume as
Mr. George Mair's _Modern English Literature_ in this series, or, more
fully, in the _Cambridge History of Modern Literature_, the later volume
of Chambers' _English Literature_, Mr. Gosse's _History of Modern
English Literature_, or Henry Morley's _English Literature in the Reign
of Victoria_, the wise reader will choose some portion for closer study,
and will go straight to the originals before he has any further traffic
with critics or commentators, however able.
He will then need the aid of fuller biographies. Some Victorian _Lives_
are already classic, or nearly so, among them Sir G. Trevelyan's
_Macaulay_, Forster's _Dickens_, Mrs. Gaskell's _Charlotte Brontė_,
Froude's _Carlyle_, and Sir E. T. Cook's _Ruskin_. With these may be
ranged the great _Dictionary of National Biography_. The "English Men of
Letters" Series includes H. D. Traill's _Coleridge_, Ainger's _Lamb_,
Trollope's _Thackeray_, Leslie Stephen's _George Eliot_, Herbert Paul's
_Matthew Arnold_, Sir A. Lyall's _Tennyson_, G. K. Chesterton's _Robert
Browning_, and A. C. Benson's _Fitzgerald_. At least two autobiographies
must be named, those of Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill, and, as
antidote to Newman's _Apologia_, the gay self-revelations of Borrow, and
Jefferies' _Story of My Heart_. Other considerable volumes are W. J.
Cross's _George Eliot_, Lionel Johnson's _Art of Thomas Hardy_, Mr. W. M.
Rossetti's _Dante G. Rossetti_, Colvin's _R. L. Stevenson_, J. W.
Mackail's _William Morris_, Holman Hunt's _Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood_,
Sir Leslie Stephen's _The Utilitarians_, Buxton Forman's _Our Living
Poets_, Edward Thomas's _Swinburne_, Monypenny's _Disraeli_, Dawson's
_Victorian Novelists_, and Stedman's _Victorian Poets_. The "Everyman"
_Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature_ is useful for
The latter half of the second volume of Mr. F. A. Mumby's _Letters of
Literary Men_ is devoted to the Victorian Age. There are fuller
collections of the _Letters_ of Leigh Hunt, Thackeray, Dickens, the
Brownings, Fitzgerald, Charles Kingsley, Matthew Arnold, and more
recently the _Letters of George Meredith_, edited by his son.
Among the important critical writers of the period, Matthew Arnold
(_Essays in Criticism_, _Study of Celtic Literature_, etc.) stands
easily first. Others are John, now Lord, Morley (_Studies in
Literature_, etc.), Augustine Birrell (_Obiter Dicta_, _Essays_), W. E.
Henley (_Views and Reviews_), J. Addington Symonds (_Essays_), J.
Churton Collins, Richard Garnett, Stopford A. Brooke, George E. B.
Saintsbury (_History of Criticism_), R. H. Hutton (_Contemporary
Thought_), J. M. Robertson (_Modern Humanists_, _Buckle_, etc.), Frederic
Harrison (_The Choice of Books_, etc.), Andrew Lang, Walter Bagehot,
Edmund Gosse, Prof. Dowden, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir A. T. Quiller