Edward FitzGerald was born in a Jacobean mansion in rural Suffolk, England. His parents were cousins and came from what was then one of the wealthiest families in Great Britain. As FitzGerald grew up, he developed a great dislike for the arrogance, ostentation, and formality of manners that he associated withwealth, but his part of the family fortune allowed him to live life on his own eccentric and creative terms throughout most of his adult years. FitzGerald’s mother, Mary Frances FitzGerald, was a proud and dominating woman, and FitzGerald’s relations with her were always difficult.
If FitzGerald’s character was in part shaped by wealth and a troubled relationship with his mother, his early years also gave him a love for the quiet scenery of Suffolk, which would stay with him throughout his life. In 1818, FitzGerald was sent to the King Edward VI Grammar School in Bury St. Edmunds. There, he received a fine classical education and developed a number of important friendships. In 1826, FitzGerald went to the University of Cambridge, where he was an undisciplined but happy student who showed again his great gift for making friends. Among his many friends at Cambridge was the future novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.
After graduating from Cambridge in 1830, FitzGerald traveled briefly to Paris, spent time in London, Southampton, and Cambridge, and eventually made his way back to Suffolk. His family’s wealth made it unnecessary for him to pursue a career, and for the...
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