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LORD E FITZGERALD

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 443 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LORD E FITZGERALD. 443 (as he afterwards boasted) to the penny box on the bookstalls. But in ,86o Rossetti discovered it, and Swinburne and Lord Houghton quickly followed. The Rubaiyat became slowly famous, but it was not until 1868 that FitzGerald was encouraged to print a second and greatly revised edition. Meanwhile he had produced in 1865 a version of the Agamemnon, and two more plays from Calderon. In 188o–1881 he issued privately translations of the two Oedipus tragedies; his last publication was Readings in Crabbe, 1882. He left in manuscript a version of Attar's Mantic- Uttair under the title of The Bird Parliament. From 1861 onwards FitzGerald's greatest interest had centred in the sea. In June 1863 he bought a yacht, The Scandal," and in 1867 he became part-owner of a herring-lugger, the " Meum and Tuum." For some years, till 1871, he spent the months from June to October mainly in " knocking about somewhere outside of Lowestoft." In this way, and among his books and flowers, FitzGerald gradually became an old man. On the 14th of June 1883 he passed away painlessly in his sleep. He was " an idle fellow, but one whose friendships were more like loves." In 1885 a stimulus was given to the steady advance of his fame by the fact that Tennyson dedicated his Tiresias to FitzGerald's memory, in some touching reminiscent verses to Old Fitz." This was but the signal for that universal appreciation of Omar Khayyam in his English dress, which has been one of the curious literary phenomena of recent years. The melody of FitzGerald's verse is so exquisite, the thoughts he rearranges and strings together are so profound, and the general atmosphere of poetry in which he steeps his version is so pure, that no surprise need be expressed at the universal favour which the poem has met with among critical readers. But its popularity has gone much deeper than this; it is now probably better known to the general public than any single poem of its class published since the year 186o, and its admirers have almost transcended common sense in the extravagance of their laudation. FitzGerald married, in middle life, Lucy, the daughter of Bernard Barton, the Quaker poet. Of FitzGerald as a man practically nothing was known until, in 1889, Mr W. Aldis Wright, his intimate friend and literary executor, published his Letters and Literary Remains in three volumes. This was followed in 1895 by the Letters to Fanny Kemble. These letters constitute a fresh bid for immortality, since they discovered that FitzGerald was a witty, picturesque and sympathetic letter-writer. One of the most unobtrusive authors who ever lived, FitzGerald has, nevertheless, by the force of his extraordinary individuality, gradually influenced the whole face of English belles-lettres, in particular as it was manifested between 1890 and 1900. The Works of Edward FitzGerald appeared in 1887. See also a chronological list of FitzGerald's works (Caxton Club, Chicago, 1899) ; notes for a bibliography by Col. W. F. Prideaux, in Notes and Queries (9th series, vol. vi.), published separately in 1901; Letters and Literary Remains (ed. W. Aldis Wright, 1902–1903) ; and the Life of Edward FitzGerald, by Thomas Wright (1904), which contains a bibliography (vol. ii. pp. 241-243) and a list of sources (vol. i. pp. xvi.-xvii.). The volume on FitzGerald in the " English Men of Letters " series is by A. C. Benson. The Fitz-Gerald centenary was celebrated in March 1909. See the Centenary Celebrations Souvenir (Ipswich, 1909) and The Times for March 25, 1909. (E. G.)
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