Samuel Butler, 1835 - 1902

portrait of Samuel Butler (novelist)
Oil on canvas by Charles Gogin (1896)

Born: 4 December 1835, Langar, Nottinghamshire, England, UK
Died: 18 June 1902, London, England, UK

Butler's father and grandfather had been Anglican clergy, the grandfather had risen to be Bishop of Lichfield while his father was never more than a parish priest. Butler considered his parents "brutal and stupid by nature" and their relationship was adversarial and involved frequent beatings. He was sent to Shrewsbury and then St John's College, Cambridge, where he earned a First in Classics in 1858. The next year was spent as an intern in a low-income London parish, preparing for ordination. While there he realized that baptism made no difference in the morals or behavior of those around him, which caused him to doubt this faith. Putting as much distance between himself and his father he moved to New Zealand in 1859, acquired a farm called Mesopotamia Station, began working on Erewhon, sold the farm for a handsome profit, and returned to London in 1864. He took rooms at Clifford's Inn near Fleet Street where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1872 his utopian satire Erewhon was published anonymously, when it was well received he took credit for it and became well known. Most of his additional writings were neither important nor really successful but he continued to examine and write about Christian orthodoxy, Italian art, and evolution. He translated The Iliad and The Odyssey, he was of the opinion that The Odyssey was the work of a young Sicilian woman rather than Homer, and he wrote a scathing semi-biographical attack on Victorian hypocrisy called The Way of All Flesh between 1870 and 1885 but withheld it until after his death out of concern for the impact on his family. There were no women but several men in his life, but he managed to avoid publicity. He died following an extended period with consumption.

Biography from Wikipedia and Gay for Today

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