Pierce Egan Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

There are in the history of the English novel many relatively minor figures who, because of some quality of their writing or some type of subject material used, exert a strong influence on the subsequent course of that history. Such a man was Pierce Egan (EE-guhn). He was a journalist and sportswriter who affected the writing of that giant in the history of the novel, Charles Dickens.

Egan was born in London in 1772. Although he made that city his home for the rest of his life, he traveled as much as anyone of his time; it has been said that he knew every city in England and knew it well. For the early part of his life Egan wrote sporting articles and news stories for London newspapers on a freelance basis. He was continually traveling throughout England to cover prize fights, horse races, and any other kind of sporting event. By 1812 he had made his reputation in this sort of reporting, and in that year he secured a permanent position and married. Two years later his son, Pierce Egan the younger, was born. Young Egan became almost equally famous as a writer and as an illustrator, often working in conjunction with his father.

The older Egan, famous for his knowledge of high and low life in London, and for his witticisms, decided to write the adventures of a group of young rakes in London. This serialized piece of fiction is far and away his most important work, and its full title is an indication of its nature: Life in London: Or, The Day...

(The entire section is 490 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Baker, Ernest A. The History of the English Novel. Vol. 7. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1966-1967.

Hodges, Graham Russell. “Flaneurs, Prostitutes, and Historians: Sexual Commerce and Representation in the Nineteenth Century Metropolis.” Journal of Urban History 23, no. 4 (May, 1997): 488-497.

Reid, John Cowie. Bucks and Bruisers: Pierce Egan and Regency England. London: Routledge, 1971.

Thackeray, William Makepeace. Roundabout Papers. 1863. Reprint. London: J. M. Dent, 1922.