About Me

Edward Bulwer Lytton's Biography (Books) (Photos)

To Authors Index

Edward Bulwer Lytton
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (1803-1873), was an English politician, poet, playwright, and prolific novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and turned out a stream of bestselling novels which made him a considerable fortune. But, like many authors of the period, his style now seems florid and embellished[citation needed] to modern tastes. He coined the phrases, "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", and the infamous opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night."

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer is son of Gen. William Bulwer and Elizabeth Lytton, he assumed the name Bulwer-Lytton in 1843 when he inherited the Lytton estate "Knebworth." He was created Baron Lytton of Knebworth in 1866. His varied and highly derivative novels won wide popularity. Many of his early novels of manners-Falkland (1827), Paul Clifford (1830), and Eugene Aram (1832)-reflect the influence of his friend William Godwin. Bulwer-Lytton, however, is best remembered for his extremely well-researched historical novels, particularly The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and Rienzi (1835). In 1849, with The Caxtons, he began a series of humorous domestic novels, which had recently become the vogue. His utopian novel, The Coming Race, prefigured the works of Wells and Huxley. A member of Parliament from 1831 to 1841, Bulwer-Lytton was a reformer, but in 1852 he returned to Parliament as a Conservative. In 1858 he was appointed colonial secretary. He was also a successful dramatist. His plays include The Lady of Lyons (1838), Richelieu (1839), and Money (1840).


Bulwer-Lytton began his career as a follower of Jeremy Bentham. In 1831 he was elected member for St Ives in Cornwall, after which he was returned for Lincoln in 1832, and sat in Parliament for that city for nine years. He spoke in favour of the Reform Bill, and took the leading part in securing the reduction, after vainly essaying the repeal, of the newspaper stamp duties. His influence was perhaps most keenly felt when, on the Whigs' dismissal from office in 1834, he issued a pamphlet entitled A Letter to a Late Cabinet Minister on the Crisis. Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, offered him a lordship of the admiralty, which he declined as likely to interfere with his activity as an author.

In 1841, he left Parliament and didn't return to politics until 1852; this time, having differed from the policy of Lord John Russell over the Corn Laws, he stood for Hertfordshire as a Conservative. Lord Lytton held that seat until 1866, when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Lytton of Knebworth in the County of Hertford. In 1858 he entered Lord Derby's government as Secretary of State for the Colonies, thus serving alongside his old friend Disraeli. In the House of Lords he was comparatively inactive. He took a proprietary interest in the development of the Crown Colony of British Columbia and wrote with great passion to the Royal Engineers upon assigning them their duties there. The former HBC Fort Dallas at Camchin, the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, was renamed in his honour by Governor Sir James Douglas in 1858 as Lytton, British Columbia.



* Falkland (1827)
* Pelham: or The Adventures of a Gentleman (1828)
* The Disowned (1829)
* Devereux (1829)
* Paul Clifford (1830)
* Eugene Aram (1832)
* Godolphin (1833)
* Falkland (1834)
* The Last Days of Pompeii (1834)
* Rienzi, the last of the Roman tribunes (1835)
* The Student (1835)
* Ernest Maltravers (1837)
* Alice (1838)
* Night and Morning (1841)
* Zanoni (1842)
* The Last of the Barons (1843)
* Lucretia (1846)
* Harold, the Last of the Saxons (1848)
* The Caxtons: A Family Picture (1849)
* My Novel, or Varieties in English Life (1853)
* The Haunted and the Haunters or The House and the Brain (1857)
* What Will He Do With It? (1858)
* A Strange Story (1862)
* The Coming Race or Vril: The Power of the Coming Race (1871)
* Kennelm Chillingly (1873)
* The Parisiens (1873 unfinished)


* Ismael (1820)
* The New Timon (1846) (An attack on Tennyson published anonymously)
* King Arthur (1848-9)


* The Lady of Lyons (1838)
* Richelieu (1839)
* Money (1840)

To Authors Index