Edmund Burke Additional Biography


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...

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Ayling, Stanley. Edmund Burke: His Life and Opinions. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. A comprehensive account of Burke’s life and career.

Blakemore, Steven, ed. Burke and the French Revolution. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992. Six essays written for the bicentennial.

Cowie, Leonard W. Edmund Burke, 1729-1797: A Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. A bibliography of Burke’s life and career. Includes a biographical essay and chronology. Provides a complete list of his writings, as well as books and articles about him.

Kirk, Russell. Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered. Rev. and updated ed. Wilmington, Del.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1997. An introduction to the life and politics of Burke. More of a political biography than a general biography. Very readable.

Lock, F. P. Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. London: Allen & Unwin, 1985. Besides offering authoritative commentary, Lock carefully explains the sequence of events that led up to Burke’s response.

Mitchell, L. G. Introduction to Reflections on the Revolution in France, by Edmund Burke. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. A concise and informative introduction to one of the most readily available paperback editions of the Reflections on the Revolution in France.

O’Brien, Conor Cruise. The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography and Commented Anthology of Edmund Burke. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. A nontraditional profile that is a mixture of personal biography, intellectual biography, and annotated anthology.