George J. Whyte-Melville Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

George John Whyte-Melville was born near St. Andrews, Scotland, June 19, 1821, into society, his father being a landowner in Scotland and his mother a daughter of the duke of Leeds. As a boy Whyte-Melville attended Eton, the famous English public school, and at the age of seventeen he became a commissioned officer in the Ninety-third Highlanders Regiment. After seven years with that regiment he transferred to the Coldstream Guards and retired from the British army at the age of twenty-seven with the rank of captain. When the Crimean War broke out in 1853, Whyte-Melville volunteered his services to the government and went on active duty with the rank of major. He served with units of Turkish irregular cavalry. During his service in the Crimean War he wrote some poetry, and a portion of it was published. After the war he returned to civilian life to continue writing and hunting, his favorite sport.

The novels of Whyte-Melville fall easily into two categories: sporting novels, for which he is best known, and historical romances. As a wealthy man of property and a retired officer, Whyte-Melville was completely familiar with the society he depicted in his sporting novels. He wrote from first-hand knowledge of fashionable, military, and sporting people. His novels about fox hunting had a particular appeal for British sportsmen, for they were authentically written, with a great deal of attention to detail. They are also filled with action. The best-known of the...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Baker, Ernest A. History of the English Novel. Vol. 7. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1936.

Drinkwater, John, ed. The Eighteen-sixties: Essays by Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1932.

Melville, Lewis. “G. J. Whyte-Melville.” In Victorian Novelists. 1906. Reprint. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Press, 1970.