When first published in May, 1918, Eminent Victorians received laudatory reviews in the press, and sales exceeded Strachey’s expectations. The book was reprinted in Britain six times within a year of publication, and was also popular in America. Translations were made into French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish. It seemed that the reading public, especially the younger segment, were receptive to a biography that toppled some icons of the Victorian age from their lofty pedestals.
There were only a few dissenting voices in the early reviews. One of them was Edmund Gosse, a biographer himself, who was not generally sympathetic to the Victorians. But in a letter to the Times Literary Supplement, reprinted by Strachey’s biographer, Michael Holroyd in Lytton Strachey and the Bloomsbury Group, Gosse complained that Strachey’s portrait of Lord Cromer in his biography of Gordon was an ill-natured caricature which made Cromer unrecognizable to his friends. Strachey replied that ‘‘Unfortunately, in this world, it is not always a man’s friends who know him best.’’
Professional historians were less impressed with Eminent Victorians than the general public. There were complaints that Strachey had slanted the evidence, and that his irreverent tone was inappropriate for the seriousness of his subject. In 1944, British historian F. A. Simpson wrote ‘‘Methods of Biography,’’ an influential short article...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Eminent Victorians Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!