Thomas Babington Macaulay (muh-KAW-lee) was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, October 25, 1800, the son of Zachary Macaulay, a prominent philanthropist. The boy was precocious; before he was eight he had written a history of the world and a three-canto romance in the manner of Sir Walter Scott. In 1818 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he wrote the prize poems in 1819 and 1821. He was called to the bar in 1826. In 1830, Macaulay entered Parliament as a Whig from the “pocket borough” of Calne, which was given to him from the “pocket” of Lord Lansdowne. His first speech, in support of what became the Reform Bill of 1832, was a tremendous success and established Macaulay as a leader of the Whig Party. Although the Reform Bill eliminated his and many other pocket boroughs, he represented various other constituencies in Parliament over the next fifteen years. He became a specialist in Indian affairs, and from 1834 to 1838 he was in India as a member of the Supreme Council. His essay on Lord Clive, the leader of England’s acquisition of India as a colony, was published in 1840.
Macaulay established his literary reputation in 1825 with an essay on John Milton, published in the Edinburgh Review, at that time the most influential journal in England. The essay attracted wide attention, and Macaulay was soon the most widely read essayist of the period. He had already become a famous conversationalist in an age when conversation was an art, and he was a familiar figure at Holland House, entry to which signified social success. Some...
(The entire section is 646 words.)