Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer (later, on inheriting his mother’s estate, to be called E. G. E. L. Bulwer-Lytton, and later still, E. G. E. L. B. L., first Baron Lytton) was the third and last son of General William Bulwer and his wife Elizabeth Barbara Lytton, the heiress of Knebworth. Both of his parents were descendants of ancient families. Bulwer’s early education was erratic but intensive. He read widely and deeply in the notable library of his maternal grandfather, Richard Warburton Lytton, and instead of attending a public school, he was placed with a tutor at Ealing. In 1822, Bulwer went up to Cambridge. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1826 and a master of arts in 1835. His university awarded him an honorary doctor of laws in 1864.
Having finished his education, Bulwer led the life of traveler and man of fashion. He toured the Lake District and Scotland and frequented the most exclusive circles of society in London and Paris. Handsome, elegantly dressed, proficient at all the fashionable sports and pursuits, he was one of the great dandies of England’s “age of cards and candlelight.” Like many another literary gentleman of his day, Bulwer had been dazzled by the glamour and notoriety of the late Lord Byron, and he made the mistake of embarking on a curious romance with one of Byron’s former mistresses, the mentally unbalanced Lady Caroline Lamb. This liaison led him to a yet worse error: In 1827, he married Lady Caroline’s protégée Rosina Doyle Wheeler, a lovely but volatile Irishwoman, against the wishes of his mother, on whose inclinations all of his financial prospects rested.
As short of income as they were lavish in their tastes, the young couple had to rely on Bulwer-Lytton’s pen to pay their bills. It proved dependable....
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