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Craik, George Lillie

CRAIK, GEORGE LILLIE (1798-1866), English man of letters, the son of a schoolmaster, was born at Kennoway, Fifeshire, in 1798. He studied at the university of St Andrews with the intention of entering the church, but, altering his plans, became the editor of a local newspaper, and went to London in 1824 to devote himself to literature. He became connected with a short-lived literary paper called the Verulam; in 1831 he published his Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties among the works of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; he contributed a considerable number of biographical and historical articles to the Penny Cyclopaedia; and he edited the Pictorial History of England, himself writing much of the work. In 1844 he published his History of Literature and Learning in England from the Norman Conquest to the Present Time, illustrated by extracts. Craik is best known for his abridged version of this work, The History of English Literature and the English Language (1861), which passed through several editions. In the next year appeared his Spenser and his Poetry, an abstract of Spenser's poems, with historical and biographical notes and frequent quotations; and in 1847 his Bacon, his Writings and his Philosophy, a work of a similar kind. The two last-mentioned works appeared among Knight's Weekly Volumes. Two years later Craik obtained the chair of history and English literature at Queen's College, Belfast, a position which he held till his death, which took place on the 25th of June 1866. He had married Miss Jeannette Dempster (d. 1856) in 1826, and his daughter, Georgiana Marion Craik (Mrs A. W. May), wrote over thirty novels, of which Lost and Won (1859) was the best. Besides the works already noticed, Craik published the History of British Commerce from the Earliest Times (1844), Romance of the Peerage (1848-1850) and The English of Shakespeare (1856).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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