Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: A parliamentary politician, Burke criticized the abuse of royal power by King George III and his ministers, but he was also critical of theories of radical democracy, which he thought threatened the stability of the social order. He opposed the use of force in dealing with the American Colonies and was an eloquent advocate of responsibility and humanity in dealing with subject peoples. In later life, he supported the Crown and other historic institutions of Great Britain when they were challenged by the power and ideology of revolutionary France.
Edmund Burke was born in Dublin, the son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. He was reared a Protestant, but he worked to obtain equal treatment for Catholics. Burke studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1750 he went to London to pursue a career as a writer. His Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, published in 1757, was hailed as an important piece of aesthetic criticism, and he became a friend of Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, and other leading literary figures. In 1757, Burke also was married, to Jane Nugent, a doctor’s daughter.
In 1758, Burke became the first editor of The Annual Register, a volume which contained a survey of the events of the year, including international affairs, domestic politics, economic and social developments,...
(The entire section is 2140 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Edmund Burke, born in Dublin on January 12, 1729, the son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, was schooled by Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker who became his lifelong friend. Burke spent five years as a mediocre student at Trinity College, Dublin, before going to London in 1750 to study law; however, he never passed the bar. After his allowance was cut off, he did hack writing for a living; his Vindication of Natural Society, a satire on Lord Bolingbroke, shows the cast of his political thought in this early period. In 1756, he married a daughter of Dr. Nugent of Bath; his father-in-law settled with Burke in London and introduced him to “single-speech” W. G. Hamilton, a member of Parliament who became Irish Secretary and took Burke with him to Dublin, thus beginning the young man’s public career.
In 1759, Burke founded the Annual Register (on political and economic matters), with which he was associated until 1788. In 1765, he entered the House of Commons, where he remained for twenty-nine years, never becoming a minister and always opposing the ministries of George III. He fought for such causes as the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation in Ireland, and the prosecution of the corrupt exploiters of India, especially Warren Hastings. He was particularly embittered when the fourteen-year-long trial of the latter ended in acquittal.
The Speech on Moving His Resolutions for Conciliation with the...
(The entire section is 510 words.)