Captain Frederick Marryat, of the Royal Navy, 1792-1848: in his sea novels depicts naval life with rare fidelity, and with, a roystering joviality which makes them extremely entertaining. The principal of these are Frank Mildmay, Newton Forster, Peter Simple, and Midshipman Easy. His works constitute a truthful portrait of the British Navy in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and have influenced many high-spirited youths to choose a maritime profession.
George P. R. James, 1806-1860: is the author of nearly two hundred novels, chiefly historical, which have been, in their day, popular. It was soon found, however, that he repeated himself, and the sameness of handling began to tire his readers. His “two travellers,” with whom he opens his stories, have become proverbially ridiculous. But he has depicted scenes in modern history with skill, and especially in French history. His Richelieu is a favorite; and in his Life of Charlemagne he has brought together the principal events in the career of that distinguished monarch with logical force and historical accuracy.
Benjamin d’Israeli, born 1805: is far more famous as a persevering, acute, and able statesman than as a novelist. In proof of this, having surmounted unusual difficulties, he has been twice Chancellor of the Exchequer and once Prime Minister of England. Among his earlier novels, which are pictures of existing society, are: Vivian Gray, Contarini Fleming, Coningsby, and Henrietta Temple. In The Wondrous Tale of Alroy he has described the career of that singular claimant to the Jewish Messiahship. Lothair, which was published in 1869, is the story of a young nobleman who was almost enticed to enter the Roman Catholic Church. The descriptions of society are either very much overwrought or ironical; but his knowledge of State craft and Church craft renders the book of great value to the history of religious polemics. His father, Isaac d’Israeli, is favorably known as the author of The Curiosities of Literature, The Amenities of Literature, and The Quarrels of Authors.
Charles Lever, 1806-1872: he was born in Dublin, and, after a partial University career, studied medicine. He has embodied his experience of military life in several striking but exaggerated works,—among these are: The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Charles O’Malley, and Jack Hinton. He excels in humor and in picturesque battle-scenes, and he has painted the age in caricature. Of its kind, Charles O’Malley stands pre-eminent: the variety of character is great; all classes of military men figure in the scenes, from the Duke of Wellington to the inimitable Mickey Free. He was for some time editor of the Dublin University Magazine, and has written numerous other novels, among which are: Roland Cashel, The Knight of Gwynne, and The Dodd Family Abroad; and, last of all, Lord Kilgobbin.